With No Respite From Drought, Officials Call Upon Californians To Conserve Water

The start of this year has been the driest in California’s history. With the severe drought now in a third year, the state faces depleted reservoirs, a meager snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and a worsening water shortage on the Colorado River.

Under sunny blue skies in Sacramento, where it hasn’t rained in two months, officials stood Thursday in front of a mulch-covered garden and appealed for Californians to save water.

“We’re asking all Californians to step up,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. That means reducing water usage immediately and also taking steps that will help conserve in the long run, he said, such as replacing grass with drought-tolerant plants, or switching to water-saving appliances.

“Our drought conditions are becoming more threatening with climate change,” Crowfoot said. Warmer winters are reducing the snowpack that accumulates in the Sierra Nevada, he said, and hotter temperatures in the spring and summer “mean that more of that snow absorbs into very dry soils or evaporates into the air.”

In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%. Most areas of the state have fallen far short of that target.

The latest conservation figures for cities and towns across the state through December showed cumulative water savings of 7.5% compared with a year ago, and that’s “not going to be enough” in many communities, said Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

The levels of many major reservoirs in California, from Lake Oroville to the San Luis Reservoir, remain far below average. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which feeds the state’s reservoirs, now stands at just 60% of average for this time of year.

Large water suppliers throughout the state have responded with drought measures including advertising campaigns that encourage conservation.

The state’s Save Our Water campaign, together with the State Water Contractors, released an animated video to spread the message. With the handwritten slogan “Doing your part” on a whiteboard, the video shares water-saving tips, such as installing drip irrigation systems, using a smart irrigation controller and taking five-minute showers.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has announced it is spending an additional $10.5 million to expand its advertising campaign calling for the public to conserve.

“Our reservoirs continue to decline, and so we are really in a critical time to move on our efforts to fortify our water supply,” Adel Hagekhalil, MWD’s general manager, told the district’s board this week.

In announcing the expanded advertising campaign, Hagekhalil said the less water Southern California uses now, “the longer we can stretch these stored supplies into the summer and fall, and next year, if needed.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

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