Since Governor Brown declared a drought emergency and called for Californians to cut back on their water usage, the Golden State has done a great job of, well, letting their lawns get golden and cutting back on water use. Unfortunately, the conservation may be coming to an end.
Sure, it may seem silly at first for anyone to worry about water conservation in these days. This year’s El Nino is so intense it’s been dubbed a “Godzilla El Nino” and the southwest seems drenched in rainfall. So why should anyone care about water conservation?
First and foremost, because the water situation in urban California is far more complicated than just more rain = more water. Since Los Angeles (and most other major California cities) imports its water through the aqueducts, we can still drain the land dry by transporting all of the water that falls in deserts far away. By diverting streams in the Owens Valley and Mono County, Los Angeles drinks Inyo County dry regardless of changes in the weather.
There’s also the fact that very little of this rainfall will remain in California’s water system. After an extended period of drought, trees have died and the ground has hardened, making our natural system less capable of retaining the water. This means more floods, more mudslides, and ultimately, more un-captured water running into the ocean.
Finally, all too often, we underestimate the intensity of the latest drought to hit California. While the rainfall and snowfall are definitely a much-needed blessing in these dry times, they are unlikely to be enough to offset four years of extreme drought.
The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be conscientious with our water usage. The good news is that saving water during a rainy season can be easy: turn off your sprinklers, set out your rain barrels, and use what Mother Nature gives you whenever you can. Keep your tap usage minimal, and remember where your water comes from. We’ll see you on the other side of all this rain!