As rain falls outside our windows and the nights get chilly, it can become easy to forget that we are still in an extreme dry period and facing a continuing water supply shortage. In fact, with so little rain these past few years, California’s own Department of Water Resources is predicting that it would take 140% of average precipitation to achieve the average state runoff necessary to replenish streams and reservoirs—that is an almost 100% increase in rain. For this reason, and the continued uncertainty on how long it will be before our waterways are replenished once again, the State Water Control Board is proposing additional Emergency Regulations to begin in January 2022.
These measures are unlikely to have much additional impact in our area, as many are already in place and have been in practice for some years now. This includes conservation measures like putting a shut-off nozzle on our hoses, eliminating water runoff from oversaturation or broken sprinklers, using a broom to sweep off outdoor areas instead of a hose, and not watering during or after rain. However, there are still many places in our State that are not as conservative in their water use and these Emergency Regulations are largely designed to further reduce domestic water use in areas still using in excess of 100 GPD.
The proposal will also prohibit HOAs and local governments within California from punishing homeowners that want to reduce their water use through planting of native gardens, grass removal, and/or allowing their grass lawns to die.
These conservation measures are commonsense, and it’s shocking that they’re not already statewide requirements. We hope these basic measures most of us have already integrated into our regular lives do in fact become state law. As climate change continues to impact our region and our state, every step we take towards creating new water use habits, the better our long-term sustainability will be and the more important it will be for us to all be on the same page.
In the meantime, it goes to show that there is still a great need for education around water use. Use the opportunity this Holiday Season to educate your out of town guests or hosts about the importance of water conservation and maybe some new habits will rub off on them!
For instance, when you see someone starting to run the faucet to defrost the frozen turkey, suggest moving it to the fridge for a less water-intensive mode of defrosting. Or if everyone has been outside playing in the rain or exploring the local scenery, suggest hot cups of cocoa and cozy blankets to warm people up instead of everyone taking a hot shower—unless of course they need a shower that is. Hot rice socks are also a great way to warm up cold hands and feet, and making them for everyone can make for a great kid activity too!