Last April, Governor Jerry Brown of California issued sweeping and mandatory water usage restrictions for potable urban water. Now, just over a year later, California has reversed that ruling in spite of (or perhaps because of) the 24% reduction in urban water usage the state has seen since the executive order was issued.
California is still deep in the throes of one of the worst naturally occurring droughts in the state’s history. Reservoirs up and down the coast are severely depleted, and the anticipated precipitation from a seasonally strong El Niño did not meet projected levels from top scientists. In short, the water supply is still at a dangerous level, but state officials have decided to withdraw the only definitive legislation they’ve passed on the issue.
The mountain snowpack in the northern half of the state was somewhat replenished, and the disappointing lack of rain over the winter was less intense in the northern third of the state, where many reservoirs are located. Coupled with the fact that citizens reduced their urban water usage by 24% since 2013, state officials must have felt that these developments warranted a reversal of their water preservation order.
Reversing the highly publicized restrictions could have serious consequences for Californians. The general public can easily perceive the reversal of the executive order as tangible proof that the state is no longer experiencing a drought or water shortage, when the opposite is true.
The executive order was as much about precedent as policy – if Californians don’t begin limiting their water waste, they will eventually run out of potable water with little warning, which could lead to inflated prices and public panic. Water conservation and shrewd allocation of resources is paramount to avoiding a water shortage or water pollution crisis in the future.
California is cutting back on resource regulation when it arguably hasn’t been harsh enough. The regulations passed last year only affected urban water usage – agriculture, which accounts for the vast majority of the state’s water usage, functions under a different set of regulation, California agriculture has yet to greatly change its standards or regulations in face of the relentless drought.
With local communities now responsible for setting their own conservation guidelines, it’s up to us as individuals to take charge and set an example in our neighborhood. Learn how to conserve water as the warm summer rapidly approaches. And to guarantee your household doesn’t waste precious resources, read our tips for running an eco-friendly house.
When outfitting your home with whole house filtration systems and other products that see a lot of intake and outtake throughout the year, do your research to choose products that conserve as much water and natural resources as possible. Pelican Water filtration systems conserve a great deal of water so there’s little to no waste, and our products don’t use electricity so energy and money is conserved.
State officials have warned that the drought, currently five years long and counting, is likely to persist for many more years. Due to climate change, citizens of California can expect a more arid climate overall, and rainfall may be scarce for generations. Do your part to conserve water whenever possible to maintain our planet’s most valuable resource.