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One of the biggest issues in California is the current drought. California is heading into its fourth year of the drought and it is showing no signs of decline. California continues to decline as the absence of rain progresses; due to the absence of rain this drought is by far one of the driest/ worst droughts that has ever hit California. Over the past 100 years California has had a long history with multiple different droughts; so as residents of California, the main question is how can we hinder the progress of the current drought and potentially stop more droughts from coming along in the future? The people of California need to take what Jerry Brown has done and go a step further with this war on the drought (Fitzpatrick, 2014). Any change that the people of California can do in conserving water will ultimately have a positive effect on the future of California.
Some of the most notable droughts have occurred during the time periods of 1929–37, 1943-51, 1976–77, and 2007-09 (Paulson et al. 1991, p.591). California’s history with statewide droughts is a fairly long one dating back to the early 1920s (Paulson et al. 1991, p. 591). One of the first droughts in California was during the 1920s and 30s which lasted from 1928 to 1937(Paulson et al. 1991, p.591). During this time, the drought of 1928-37 amassed one of the largest runoff deficiencies in drought history of California (Paulson et al. 1991, p.591). This drought is also widely known for being one on the worst droughts in California’s history (Paulson et al. 1991, p. 591).
The next drought would be the one from 1943-51; this drought was at its peak during 1947-49. This drought had a greater impact in the central and southern coastal areas because of the water deficiencies in runoff and to what some consider topping the previous drought of the 1920s (Paulson et al. 1991, p. 591). The following California drought was during the late 50s and early 60s which lasted about 4 years along the central and north coasts of California and presented the same effects the past two droughts presented (Paulson et al. 1991, p.591). Another drought that had a profound effect on California was the drought of 1976-77. This was a very short but catastrophic drought (Paulson et al. 1991, p.591). This drought affected most of northern California (Paulson et al. 1991, p.591). Most of Northern California went dry which then affected Southern California because most of Southern California’s water supply came from the north (Paulson et al. 1991, p.591).
One of the more recent droughts was the one of 2007- 2009. This drought caused major dry spells in California and was contributing factor in why California is so exceptionally dry currently (Cowin, 2014, p. 1). This drought had record low amounts of rainfall during the three calendar years it was in session. Also this drought was the very first to signify a statewide water shortage, state of emergency in February of 2009(Cowin, 2014, p. 2). However once 2010 came along, California started to see the effects of the drought started to dwindle away with perception coming in at staggering new highs; by the midpoint of the year the projections were exceeding 121 percent of the average (Cowin, 2014, p. 2). Half way through 2010, there was a small glimpse of hope that the drought was going to be gone; but by the end of 2010 a new mega drought was on its way in (Cowin, 2014, p. 2).
The 2010-2013 drought is most notably know for how dry it has made California today (California Dept. of Water Resources, 2014). These past three years alone have been the driest California has seen in the last 119 years (California Dept. of Water Resources, 2014). Because of the extending dry periods, forecasters have been unable to predict if and when the drought will end (California Dept. of Water Resources, 2014). When the water year ended on September 30th, most of the state reservoirs held about sixty percent of the average for that date; and forty-one percent of the average capacity (California Dept. of Water Resources, 2014). These reservoir numbers are considerably below average. With the potential of this drought to extend into the following years, these numbers could take an even bigger drop, which will only cause California to become drier (California Dept. of Water Resources, 2014). The DWR and the association of California water agencies has urged all residents of California to cut back on their usage of water because they believe California could be heading into its fourth dry winter (California Dept. of Water Resources, 2014).
The people of California need to make it their obligation to help stop this drought and one way for them to do such a thing is to further cut back on their water usage. Governor Jerry Brown has already signed over 16 bills to help conserve water, but the people of this state need to go the extra mile and help as well (Fitzpatrick, 2014). In the small town of Davis, California, if people watered their lawns properly, each home could potentially save up to 50,000 gallons of water per year (City of Davis Water, 2014). The City of Davis has around 60,000 residents so let’s estimate it somewhere around 4000 homes, in one year the city could save up to 250,000 gallons of water (City of Davis Water, 2014). With nearly over 38 million residents in the state alone, imagine what the savings could be per year if the people of California regulated their water usage on lawns. Also the great thing about this plan is that it will not cost the residents of California a penny, in fact people will save money due to the fact they are using less water.
The best part about this plan is that it’s relatively easy. Here are some ways that homeowners can cut back on their water usage. First water your lawn only twice a week because excess watering can drown your grass and also cause pests to accumulate on your lawn (City of Davis Water, 2014). Water your lawn ear lying in the morning when the sun is not out because more water is soaked up into the lawn (City of Davis Water, 2014). Also try to avoid runoff s, so turn off your sprinklers every 15 minutes because that gives your lawn time to soak up the water resting on the surface (City of Davis Water, 2014). Make sure that your sprinklers are always on your lawn, because if water is running onto the sidewalk or road it is only being wasted (City of Davis Water, 2014). Also, try raising the height of your lawn mower when cutting the grass, because this can help increase how much water your lawn is able to hold (City of Davis Water, 2014). Lastly, avoid over fertilizing your lawn. This will require more water than average (City of Davis Water, 2014).
Another helpful hint is how much watering should be done per week during the following months In March and April, watering should be at .6-.8 inches per week; in May-August watering should be around 1.1-1.4 inches per week; in September and October around .7-.9 inches per week; and during the months of November through February water as needed (City of Davis Water, 2014). Now these suggestions on how to save water might feel pedestrian but if everyone in California did this to their lawns water savings could be huge. For example, if an estimate of five hundred thousand homes took these guidelines serious, there would be a savings of around 25 billion gallons of water saved per year and that is just from cutting back from watering your lawn.
Over the past one hundred years multiple California droughts have helped shaped how we see California today. Will this current drought eventually go away and bring the rain back or will California be forced to turn into a desert state like the states of Arizona, New Mexico or even Nevada. Whatever may happen in California, we as Californians should at least help stop or slow down the effects of this current drought. Cutting back on how much water is used on a home’s lawn may not put a significant dent in the water crisis but as long as water is being saved any and everything will help. The citizens of California need to make changes to help fix the drought. Mother Nature can’t do all the work.
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