The first Friday of February, I was sitting in a meeting in Sacramento when I suddenly heard the, nearly forgotten, sound of booming thunder. A sound I used to equally treasure and fear as a child, but has become more frequently distant as California’s winters have transformed into nothing more than a dry season with mild temperatures. I stepped outside and felt utter release as I was inundated with the crisp rainfall. Despite my relief, I began to ponder California’s water situation. With the recent rains and the fact that we are still in winter, it is all too easy to forget that California is still in a drought. It is common for our state to experience juxtaposing periods of drought and deluge. Deluge refers to the atmospheric rivers that hit California and cause torrential downpours and even flooding. The flooding that California experienced in December was the result of these periodic atmospheric rivers. However, we need at least 20 inches of rain to quench California’s thirst, and we would need even more than that to refill our reservoirs.
This daunting situation is the foremost reason why all of California’s residents need to remember to conserve water, even in winter. I am just as guilty as the next person in forgetting to turn off the faucet when I brush my teeth and allowing the shower to steam up the bathroom before I step in. This got me thinking, what can I do to change my bad habits and what else can I, and those around me, do to help conserve water?
We are all familiar with the redundant advice of turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth, tightening leaking sources of water, changing out showerheads, and limiting sprinkler use, but as good as this advice is, few people remember to actually do it! To remedy this, I came up with some creative ideas and advice to conserve water. The first idea, which I have enacted in my own household, involves making signs! This is a perfect creative outlet if you are crafty and helps to remind me to turn off the faucet, monitor the sprinklers, and stop a running toilet. Below is the sign I made for my house:
I laminated several of these and strategically placed them near all faucets. This gentle reminder helps all household members remember to change their habits.
Another effective method to conserve water involves planting California native plants in your garden. Most of the plants that are present in gardens, as beautiful as they are, take a lot of watering and maintenance. A garden full of California native species is drought resistant and low maintenance. A quick online search will reveal beautiful, and whimsical, gardens that are sure to convert you and your backyard. A final, surprising, tip to aid water conservation is to go meatless more often! Most of the water we waste is in the form of raising food including livestock and produce. Producing a single pound of corn can use over 100 gallons of water! This corn in turn, is used to feed livestock, which require copious amounts of water from birth to slaughter. Imposing a meatless diet just one day a week can significantly reduce your water footprint.
California is in a serious drought with no end in sight; this places an obligation with Californians to protect our wondrous state. We can see this as a burden or we can take it upon ourselves to be positive and find individual solutions to save our water. If we are diligent about conserving the water we have then the people, and wildlife, of California will still have full rivers, lakes, and swimming pools to bask in this hot summer.
By Alyssa Harmon