California's Rapidly Growing Water Shortage
Most of the state is experiencing extreme dryness. Statewide, reservoir and lake levels are at historic lows. According to The U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 93% of the state is currently facing Severe to Exceptional Drought. In July of 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency due to the extreme drought throughout most of the state, leaving around 42% of California's population under a water conservation declaration.
Governor Newsom urged both residents and businesses to cut water usage voluntarily. Overall, a 15% cut in water use is petitioned by many companies, residences, and agricultural areas. Some counties are even asking residents to use no more than 55 gallons of water per day, which is about enough to fill a tub and flush a toilet six times.
So how does California's water crisis compare to prior years, and what does it mean for the future?
Then Vs. Now: How Does 2021 Compare?
It's no secret California has had a fair share of droughts. So much so that the first recorded drought in California dates back to the 1800s. 2012 through 2016 was California's driest consecutive four-year stretch.
Unfortunately, this year's drought is steadily approaching the peak severity of the last one. This dangerous benchmark is partly due to Cali getting less than half of the average rain and snowfall. Many of California's reservoirs are heavily dependent on the rapidly disappearing mountain snowmelt. Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, two of the largest, have fallen to 44% and 39% of their total capacity. For most of Northern Cali, 2019 through 2021 have been the second driest on record.
California's parched landscape is also contributing to the 2021 California wildfire season, which has burned 2,243,663 acres as of September 2021.
When Will The Water Shortage End?
As California's temps are still scorching, even as fall approaches, the end to the hot and dry conditions may seem out of reach. Fall and winter are usually wetter in California, so that may help replenish the dehydrated ground. Although, even if California is wetter in 2022 than years prior, the reprieve may be only temporary. But still, it's something to hold out hope for.
The fear is that another burning spring and summer next year could rapidly deplete snowpack, streams, and reservoirs, causing the soil to dry out and the drought's unwelcome return. It would take several wet years in a row to banish the drought completely. But that's up to Mother Nature. While we shouldn't rule out a prolonged wet spell, we can do our part in helping with the water crisis.
How Can The Water Crisis Be Solved?
While an indefinite solution to the water shortage in California might still be unattainable, there are ways you can help conserve water.
More Californians are changing their habits to fix their old water-wasting patterns. Here are a few clever, easy ways you can help the water crisis. Believe it or not, every little bit does help.
- Fix any leaking sinks or toilets in your home.
- Take shorter showers (aim for 5 minutes).
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Use dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.
- Install aerators on bathroom faucets and water-efficient showerheads.
- Monitor your home's water usage (learn more below).
- Use a broom to clean your driveway or patio instead of water from a hose.
- Recycle indoor water to use on plants.
- Refrain from watering your home landscape when it rains.
Monitoring Your Home's Water Usage
Water monitoring records all the water used in your home. PowerX Water provides you with a complete view of your home's water usage to help you learn which devices are the most wasteful while giving you suggestions to cut down on waste.
Visit PowerX Water to learn about conserving even more water in your home.