In many ways, the California drought has been a slowly moving perfect storm. For over four years, the lack of rain has seriously affected California up and down its coast, leading to government regulations and local panic. As neighborhood lawns turn from verdant green to varying shades of brown, many Californians are trying new ways to reduce water use and conserve water as a precious commodity.
Causes of Droughts
As humans, we go to great lengths to find water we can use daily, and regularly create more efficient techniques that conserve water and create sustainable energy. Even so, our efficiency isn’t always enough to prevent a drought. Varying factors including lack of precipitation, the general habitat/ environment, and misuse of water for personal, business, and agricultural use all play a major factor in droughts.
Four years ago, California began going through a major weather change and the agriculture industry took the major hit. More than a quarter of the state is farmland, and California has an agriculture industry worth just over $44 billion annually. Agriculture is such an important industry that over 80% of California’s water goes to agriculture and farm use. After spending years dipping into California’s water supply, the state government began regulating water use for business and personal use to prevent a state of emergency and the further suffering of the nation’s largest agriculture industry.
Because California has become the poster child for droughts, we’ve learned how to conserve our water use. One great example of this includes new landscaping techniques. If your backyard is dying or your balcony looks a little bare, succulents are a fantastic option that come in various colors and need far less water. When watering succulents, remember to wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.
There are plenty of other ways you can be smart about your water use indoors, as well. Wash the dishes only once a day. Install and maintain water efficient appliances including efficient low-flow showerheads. And instead of tossing the water in your glass, store the water in the fridge or water nearby potted plants. That way, every drop of water has a purpose.
The bathroom may be the biggest culprit for water misuse. When it comes to shaving, brushing your teeth, or washing your hair, turn off the faucet between every use. Baths and long showers often use four times the amount of water, especially if you are washing your hair, so taking a shorter shower and washing your hair less frequently cuts water loss significantly.
You can also conserve water by changing how you shave. Instead of letting the water continuously run in the sink or the shower, fill a bowl of water or use Dr. Squatch’s shaving kit to rinse the razor between strokes. If you are using a natural soap, you can often throw the used water into the compost or to water a plant. If that sounds gross, remember even the tiny little hairs are biodegradable so they won’t be there for long.
El Niño Saves The Day?
When it comes to the California drought, there’s no easy solution. However, there is some good news. As of July 2015, water conservation efforts for personal use have dropped over 27% statewide. Also, there’s exciting weather news; El Niño Southern Oscillation (El Niño for short) is coming to California, and with this new weather patterns comes a warmer and wetter winter that can get California out of this four year drought once and for all. Here’s to hoping for a rainy season and a green new year.