California’s Epic Drought

California has only about one year’s worth of water left. Water scientists, like Jay Famiglietti, have made this prediction taking NASA satellite images and information regarding rapidly declining groundwater stores into account. Our freeway signs read “SERIOUS DROUGHT, HELP SAVE WATER.” Are people actually making serious changes to their habits though? I would say for the most part, no.

I recently visited Big Bear, California. The lake is the main source of attraction for the city’s economy. I was saddened to see visibly low water. Entire portions of the lake are barren. Bridges arbitrarily stand over what is now completely dried up. Boat docks look absurd, stranded over dry land. It was hard to look at. And what about the whole ski and snowboard industry? It’s pathetic attempts to keep open despite zero snowfall, show that people do not want to come to terms with our new reality. We pass so many winter sport equipment rental places and ponder how they are still in business. Many vacation homes look desolate, for-sale signs adorning both sides of the street. I wonder what this place was like ten years ago. I bet it was thriving and lovely. I hope that some day in the future it can be restored to what it once was.

Another problem is the bark beetle infestation. These little things are killing the majority of our trees, already weakened by the prolonged drought. According to CAL FIRE, we have prematurely lost about two-thirds of our forest tree density. What really scares me about over half of our trees dying is the fact that wildfires will become an increasing problem. Wildfire Season used to be a thing, but now it lasts all year. Will we continue to waste even more of our precious water when the time comes to put them out? As crazy and scary as it might be, maybe our best option is to just let wildfires burn. Yes, we might incur substantial damages. Yes, people might lose their homes. Fire is a natural process though. From ashes, new life can be created. Life is not all about material possessions. I know that losing everything we have would be completely devastating, but what options do we have?

Thinking about the water shortage emergency reminds me of the documentary Tapped. Tapped is seriously one of the best and most informative films about the bottled water industry. I refuse to buy plastic water bottles unless I am literally desperate. These huge corporations go into pristine natural habitats with their massive machinery and suck fresh water right from the source. Essentially, these companies are stealing public water, doing relatively no testing for quality, packaging it into carcinogenic plastic and then forcing you to buy it back. The local communities are tremendously effected by these actions. In droughts, people are restricted on their water usage, yet companies keep pumping away thousands of gallons of water. These same American companies then go on to send their profits overseas (transfer-pricing) where they do not have to pay taxes on it. They hold the money there for years until they can convince congress to allow a “tax holiday” where they can bring it back into the country for less tax then American Individuals pay on their income tax. Watch We’re Not Broke for more information.

We cannot continue to frivolously use water. I swear, if I see sprinklers watering the sidewalk one more time, I may scream. It’s also totally ironic and frightening that we have seen multiple massive water main leaks in the Los Angeles area over the past year. Remember when Sunset Blvd was flooded with wasted water? Then shortly after, UCLA spewed 10 million gallons of wasted water. Last month there was another water main break in Hollywood!! Yikes. Bad timing or what?

If you are aware of the water crisis, it is your duty to act upon it. Save water:

  • Time your showers to just five minutes.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bucket or big bowl and then reuse the water on house plants.
  • When washing your face, fill a bowl with a little water and use that instead of leaving the water running.
  • Save the water used for steaming or boiling food to make a soup broth.
  • If you drop an ice cube, or finish your drink and have ice cubes remaining, use them to water hanging plants or trees.
  • When you change your pet’s water with fresh water, use the old water on plants.
  • Turn the water off while washing your hands, brushing your teeth or even washing your hair.
  • Fill the dishwasher and washing machine completely before running the load.
  • Cut back on meat, red meat consumes the most water.
  • Replace your lawn with drought-resistant, native plants.
  • Wash your pet or your car on your lawn (if you still have one).
  • Use organic mulch to retain moisture in your garden.
  • Compost all vegetable food scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds.
  • Scrape food scraps off dishes before putting them into the dishwasher rather than rinsing them.
  • If washing dishes by hand, fill one side of the sink with soapy water and the other with a little rinsing water.
  • Allow fallen leaves to stay on the ground, they provide insulation and keep the ground cooler.
  • If you mow your lawn, keep it longer to provide more shade to retain water.
  • Pick weeds in your garden, they compete with your plants for water.
  • If you have a weed problem in your organic garden, research whether or not these weeds have medicinal uses so you can use them or sell them.
  • Share a flush if you are using the restroom with a loved one.
  • Always check for leaks and repair them right away.
  • Appoint someone in your company to be in charge of water conservation.
  • Post your company’s water usage so you can compare monthly.
  • Have someone come to your office or business to audit your water usage.
  • Get a water saving toilet or shower head.
  • Stop buying plastic water bottles, they just contribute more to your carbon footprint.
  • Take advantage of public transportation or walk more often.
  • Get outside and enjoy the great outdoors!

I found many of these water saving tips from wateruseitwisely.com and saveourwater.com. Others listed are just common sense πŸ™‚ I shudder to think of the day we go to turn on the tap – and nothing comes out. Some cities, states and even countries are literally running out of water. Please do not take it for granted. Be water wise. Share these tips and facts with your friends, family and coworkers. Make conversation about it with anyone who will listen. People most resistant to talking about our water issue, are probably those who need to hear about it the most.

Thanks for reading! Please comment below if you have any tips for more ways to save water.

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