After 5 years of drought, El Niño has rehydrated Northern California, filling up key reservoirs and restoring suburbia’s green lawns. However, Californians in the south were missed by El Niño and are expecting to go through yet another dry year. In an effort to build a drought resilient state and deal with this climate dichotomy, California Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order, Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life. To better explain the new water conservation rules, we’ve decided to walk you through it in a 3-part series pointing out the major changes.
PART 1 : North Vs. South
The new order recognizes the differing water supply conditions across the state and reduces the targeted conservation percentages for Northern California with little to no changes for the South. It also requests a proposal to achieve mandatory reduction in potable water usage efforts and develop new and permanent water use targets based upon each agency’s specific circumstances.
Even though the changes are necessary, some experts fear that the state is obscuring the “we’re all in this together” campaign, and the newfound abundance could undo much of the progress of the past years.
Weather may have loosened the grip on California’s Northern half, but the damage done by the drought to the state’s water supply will take years, even decades of wet weather to replenish. The water crisis is not over. Groundwater storage has been pumped at unsustainable rates. Sierra Nevada’s snowpack, a crucial natural water reservoir, has been suffering an increase of liquid precipitation, which means less snowpack storage and faster uncaptured runoff. Additionally, Lake Mead, one of the two major storage reservoirs on the Colorado River system and the largest water reservoir in the United States, has reached a historic low point this year.
The Golden State must change the way how they relate to water and their declining water supplies, and learn to consume significantly less water even if the drought is over or not. To ensure long-term sustainability to the region, California should continue the use of water conservation technologies such as Falcon’s Waterfree Technologies’ waterless urinals and hybrid and the implementation of policies and programs that can adapt the state to the changing climate.