Well into its fifth straight year of severe drought, California continues to experience a major shortage of water. Parched land, dying trees, and wildfires are rampant throughout the state.
Regulators have been taking steps to manage the situation, including encouraging homeowners to step up to the plate and conserve as much water as possible. And it looks like homeowners are doing just that.
While Californians on average used 12% less water early on in 2016, they’ve certainly rallied by May, using almost 24% less water by then.
That’s a huge improvement.
With the persistent drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency drought order in January 2014, and in May of this year, an order to continue water savings was issued as the drought drags on.
The order came as previous water conservation efforts continued to fall short as California enters yet another year of severe drought. The administration of Gov. Brown imposed mandatory water conservation rules that affect millions of people, including homeowners and businesses.
The governor’s program originally mandated an average of 25% water savings per household from June 2015 through to February 2016. The mandate was later changed to 20%.
Water savings are measured against corresponding months in 2013.
Many districts across the state have typically been conserving plenty of water by late 2015 and early 2016, but typically not anywhere near the mandated targets.
The Governor has even considered issuing fines for those who blatantly waste water, while some local water firms have been contemplating stiffer conservation plans. Enforcing the rules are left up to local municipalities, counties and water districts.
However, many other water agencies are hesitant to enforce substantial fines and sanctions on water wasters, and believe they’ll be more successful by educating and warning about the implications of dry aquifers.
Perhaps such direction is working, because Californians have really been doing their part to conserve as much water as necessary through a variety of measures.
So, how are California homeowners cutting back on water usage?
Drought is becoming a regular occurrence in California, and water conservation needs to be a regular part of everyday life rather than just a response to a state of emergency.
Californians have stepped up to the plate in the name of conserving water during the drought through a number of efforts, including:
- Cutting back on sprinklers
- Replacing lawns
- Repairing leaky faucets
- Reusing rain water
- Using reclaimed water
- Installing more efficient washing machines and toilets
From June 2015 to March 2016, Californians have been able to conserve enough to supply 6.5 residents in the state with water for one full year.
Considering the warmer temperatures and frequent stretches without rain, droughts in California are expected to be more prevalent and longer-lasting. The past three years have been the driest and hottest in California history thanks in part to climate change and reduced water in the Sierra Nevada snowpack.
By recognizing these seemingly persistent conditions, it looks like Californians are going to have to keep up with their water conservation efforts, at least into the foreseeable future.