- How much water have we lost? “As of August 2014, California had lost 63 trillion gallons of groundwater in one 18-month period of drought—a combination of no replenishment from surface water, increased evapotranspiration rates, and increased groundwater pumping by users without water in their rivers or their wells,” according to the Arid Lands Institute of Burbank, California. And that 63 trillion gallon figure was only for half of the drought we have been experiencing!
- How much rain would it take for California’s drought to be over? It’s taken years of ongoing drought to deplete the groundwater levels, and low snowpacks for the last several years has allowed the ground to soak up more sun, adding even more to the environmental warm up. The Sierra snowpack, according to National Geographic, was at a 500-year low before this 2016-17 rainy season. Not only do reservoirs need to fill up around the state, we also need to have the groundwater aquifers replenish. A combination of a lot of rainfall, falling in the right places (up and down the state), with below-freezing temperatures (so the water freezes and turns to snow) over a sustained period of time would go a long way towards overcoming this devastating drought.
- How much rain did we get this season? “Fueled by a parade of ‘Pineapple Express’ storms, California is in the midst of its wettest water year in 122 years of record-keeping, according to federal scientists. Between October 2016 and February 2017, California averaged 27.81 inches of precipitation, the highest average since such records began being kept in 1895,” according to data released Wednesday by the National Centers for Environmental Information, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- What can I do to help? Did you know that the Governor’s proclamation of drought is still in effect? Continue to conserve water by not: using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways, allowing runoff when irrigating with potable water, using hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars, using potable water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water, or irrigating outdoors during and within 48 hours following measureable rainfall. When indoors you can reduce consumption by taking shorter showers, flushing your toilet less, and soaking dishes prior to washing to reduce the time running water is on. Those prohibitions, and more information about conserving water can be found on the state’s Water Conservation Portal: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal/index.shtml
California had the wettest winter in 122 years, so we must have enough water now, right? Unfortunately not. As we warm up this spring, we encourage you to continue to conserve water. Here are some interesting facts about the state of our State’s water supply. We hope this reinforces our personal and community-wide water conservation behavior. With the effects of climate change creating a new “normal”-- like longer drought periods and wetter, more destructive rainy cycles-- conserving one of our most precious resources should be a year-round habit. Feel free to pass this article along to a friend; together we can save the planet…and ourselves:
SBS believes in the value of collaboration. Our post come from ideas and issues our team feels passionate about. We offer a combination of topical sustainability issues and applicable tips for every month of the year.