A week ago, Governor Brown ordered a mandatory 25% reduction in water usage on campuses, golf courses, and cemeteries and to replace large lawns with drought tolerant landscaping. A temporary statewide rebate program is set up to encourage homeowners to replace old appliances for more efficient ones. Local agencies will aid in enforcing usage limits by hiking rates and fees accordingly.
At the beginning of April, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides 30% of the state’s water supply, usually has 5 feet of snow is now a path of dry grass. Approximately 70% of the state’s water supply comes from surface water (rivers, lakes, streams) so the Sierra Nevada snowpack plays a crucial role in not depleting our natural resources. Critics accused Governor Brown of not being hard enough on farmers and ranchers, which uses roughly 80% of our water supply. Water experts claim that the agriculture industry has suffered enough over the past four years, so no additional burden is necessary presently.
To put things into perceptive, in 2013 nearly 50% of all fruits, nuts and vegetables produced in the United States were grown in California; total output valued at $46.4 billion. In household usage, more than 50% of water is used for landscaping, another 40% accounts for toilet flushes and showers. So really, reducing our water consumption to 25% is not impossible and does not have to be too painful. We have to change our habits immediately, or suffer in the near future. And this is not limited to California or even the western states, because shortly thereafter, more states nationwide will start to feel the pain, when their dairy products, fruits and vegetables supply drastically reduce to be replaced by scarcity and higher prices.
Source:Brown Orders California’s First Mandatory Water Restrictions: ‘It’s a different world’ (latimes.com, April 1, 2015). California Agricultural Production Statistics (cdfa.ca.gov, April 4, 2015).