It seems like something out of a cautionary fairy tale: “California is drying up!” “There isn’t going to be any water left for California if we don’t start changing our ways.”
Then, it happened. California is going through its worst drought in decades.
On April 1, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown imposed new water restrictions for the entire state based on severe drought conditions that are expected to last through 2016.
The drought in the state has already been going on for years but only until the recent jaw dropping comparison photos of what it has done to the lake levels and scenery did anyone really notice or care.
38.8 million people live, work and utilize potable water in California.
Governor Brown’s latest Executive Order was a desperate plea for the people of his state to work together through this drought in an effort to keep California going.
The Executive Order can be read here.
At first glance, this seems like a law that every citizen would want to uphold. Replace your high-maintenace lawns with native plants. Shorten the already-short shower suggestion of five minutes down to three.
The Department of Water Resources will lead a statewide initiative to replace 50 million square feet of lawns and ornamental turf with drought tolerant landscape. There will also be funding for underserved communities to allow for lawn replacement.
While California is making major changes to how it utilizes water, the farming industry is still going at full speed. The need for potable water continues to increase as wells dry up and the demand for food rises.
This is where you and I come in. I don’t in live in California anymore but I can still help to make an impact on the drought.
The best way that I can impact the severe water conditions in California is by being a conscious consumer.
California is a major producer of the United States’ almonds, strawberries, walnuts, grapes, tomatoes, lettuce and pistachios. The state also contains an overwhelming amount of C.A.F.Os (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation).
It takes roughly one gallon of water to produce one almond.
To grow one tomato, it takes around three gallons of water.
A pound of beef takes roughly 1,847 gallons of water.
So what can we do?
I have decided to do my part by starting off with these three things:
1. Showers. I do love an indulgent, melt the skin off your back hot shower, but it only makes sense to me that I should be limiting my shower time even if I’m not in California. It’s a daily reminder to me that I, too need to be aware of needless water usage throughout my house.
2. Food. Eating less of the food that is in high demand in California will help ease the extremes that farmers are going to in order to get water to the produce. If I want tomatoes everyday, I can plant them myself.
3. Money. The most powerful tool I have as a citizen in the United States is my money. My voice can be heard when I choose to buy or not to buy something. Investors are listening. The stock market is listening. By keeping my money out of the massive production for stuff, I can help slow the need for “things” down.
California is an example of what could happen to other places if our present awareness and actions don’t change. We can not exclude California as an oddity. We need to work together to implement better conservation efforts as well as limiting our massive consumption and waste of foods.
Will my small actions cause California’s lakes to fill back up? In a word, no. However, if enough people can do small things, big changes can happen.
“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little — do what you can.” ~ Sydney Smith
We have choices. We can either be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. I’m going to do what I can to be a part of the solution.
Author: Jennifer Cullum
Editor: Caroline Beaton
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