California is now in its 4th year of a statewide drought. Normally, mountain ranges in Northern California, such as the Sierra Nevada, are left this time of year with a snow pack that melts into reservoirs for state use, but measurements taken on April 1st reveal that the snow pack is only 5% of the normal amount, a record low dropping from 25% last year. Snow water makes up about 1/3 of California’s water supply, and water demand is still expected to increase for the summer months.
As a result, Governor Jerry Brown signed an order for mandatory statewide water cuts to reach 25% savings in potable urban consumption in the next nine months. Last year, he called for voluntary conservation, but that initiative was not picked up everywhere. Now with the mandatory order, Governor Brown will be targeting large college campuses, golf courses, and cemeteries in addition to cities that responded poorly to the first voluntary initiative. Furthermore, Governor Brown is investing in new water-saving technology and replacing 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state (approximately 900 football fields) with drought-tolerant landscaping, known as xeriscaping. Hopefully, these measures will prove more successful in the future to protect against increased wild fires and the drought potentially spreading outside of California to other Western states.
Contributor: Raina Searles