Mega Drought in California

California is in a mega drought which may last many more years.

How to respond to the looming specter of enduring drought in California is a controversial topic, subject to much debate and pontification on the part of pundits and politicians.  The first thing to do is to divide the debate into two parts, water conservation by individuals and conservation by farms.

Eighty percent of water used in California is by large agricultural corporations. We see a lot of sad stories about small farms who are losing their livelihood but in most cases it is a result of an unwillingness to change in the face of facts. Farmers have been overusing water for many years with methods like flood irrigation and choosing to grow the most water intensive crops possible. Now that we are drilling for water deeper and deeper, the realty that water is not an infinitely renewable resource has hit the farmers hard.

So while individual efforts to conserve water won’t have as much of an impact as say banning flood irrigation, it is still something everyone should think about and do because every little bit helps. A significant amount of water can be saved by upgrading or changing appliances. A more efficient toilet tank system can save a lot of water as well as a water saving clothes washer. Upgrading appliances can qualify you for a rebate.

There are also a lot of opportunities to save water outside.

  • Use mulch, a layer of groundcover evens out the soil temperature and increases water retention in the soil.
  • Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation instead of a normal sprinkler, this can save up to seventy percent.
  • Plant a tree, trees need less water than grass and they provide shade which reduces evaporation and keeps things cool.
  • Plant drought resistant varieties of plants instead of water hungry grass.
  • Get a timer for the watering system and water at night or early morning to reduce evaporation from the hot sun.
  • If you have a lawn keep the grass long so the roots stay shaded and need less water.
  • Use a broom to clean patios instead of a hose.

We are currently experiencing the worst drought in 1200 years and indications are that it won’t end for 10-20 years. In light of that sobering forecast, we all need to do our part to save water.

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