“drought emergency”

Our Governor has declared a drought emergency for California. The state rainfall and snowpack has been lower than average for most of the recent years, and reservoir reserves are dwindling. My county has been slightly over average in its rainfall this season but most of our water comes from the Sierra snows and the Colorado River. So this crisis is very real for us down here as well.

hang-tag_1At this point we’re on call for a voluntary water reduction, but if the rains fail us people will be required to reduce their water use 20%, and then–if things get worse–by 40% or more. Since landscapes consumes the majority of the water, our county water authority has started an advertising campaign to deliver these water-overuse doorknob hangers with the Sunday paper. It’s also available online: here.

There are checkboxes for “Your sprinklers are watering the pavement,” “Your sprinklers were on during the rain,” “You have a broken sprinkler, and/or your irrigation system is leaking,” “Your sprinklers are on every day” and “Your sprinklers are on during the day.” My local shopping center is a huge offender in the first category and will be getting a hang tag from me.

But this program is mostly about sprinklers and watering habits and doesn’t really address the underlying causes. There really need to be big boxes saying, “Your huge expanse of grass and water-thirsty plants are attractive, but I’d like to show you how you can have a terrific-looking yard that requires almost no additional water,” or “This extremely well-watered golf course has no place in the desert that is San Diego County.”

The very green golf course in the local canyon bottom would get a violation tag if that were the case. At least, to their credit, they let the driving range go brown with the end of the rains. Maybe in California golf could morph into a seasonal winter sport, like skiing? Maybe I’m delusional?

5 thoughts on ““drought emergency””

  1. So many of my calls in the past 8 months have been for lawn reduction or elimination that I thought people were finally getting it. But I was chatting with my hair stylist last week and told her our water district was going to water rationing in May (which she didn’t know). She was unconcerned because she doesn’t use much water other than doing the dishes. I told her that 80% of summer water goes to irrigation and she still wasn’t concerned because she doesn’t have a lot of plants. So then I said, the problem’s not the plants, it’s the lawn, but I’m still not sure she grasped what I was saying (and I didn’t want to upset her while she was holding the scissors.)

    How can people conserve when they don’t even understand where their water is going?

  2. It’s a sad fact, but lots of people won’t get it until they turn the tap on, and no water comes out. By that time, it’s probably going to be all over but the cryin’!

  3. Susan, it’s good you got the discussion going with your stylist. Even if she didn’t get it the first time around, hopefully that might help with things the next time she hears something similar. I think I’d have shown the same kind of restraint in the position you were in, but I suppose a “What happened to your hair?” question could slide into piles of teachable moments. It sounds like your getting calls from others who clearly get the point.

    Blue Fox, sometimes it takes a shock for people to really get it. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point!

  4. I wish you luck with your water situation. It’s getting pretty dire in large parts of the U.S. When I lived in Austin we routinely had water restrictions in the summer (could only water on certain days; Texas is now having serious drought issues). I really like the fact that you all have those door hangers. That should help educate the offenders (I hope).

    1. Thanks, Jean. The last time I looked at a national drought map I noticed that the area that looked worst-hit wasn’t California but central Texas. We’re probably navel-gazing a bit here on the left coast–There definitely are drought issues going around all over!

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