Around the Web
The Drought in the News

When I read the New York Times April coverage of our California drought, I thought it posed a fair question: What will life in California be like in the years ahead? But the article implied that it’s Jerry Brown’s mandate that we reduce our water consumption by 25% that’s raising this question, and I can’t agree. The issue isn’t regulation. The issue is learning to live within our means, and how as a culture we believe water to be an endless resource, even though it isn’t. Some people are so insistent that we maintain our “God-given right” to water access that they’ll pursue it at any cost.

Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker
Folsom Lake – Sacramento, California 2014.    Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker

NBC News reported recently that the City of Santa Barbara is considering reactivating a desalination plant that only ever operated for three months in 1992. Says our city’s mayor Helene Schneider, “We know it’s a very big decision to take—and yet at the same time we’ve done everything we could with our other water supply options.” The reason this would be such a major decision is that saltwater desalination is an energy-intensive process, raising the costs of the city’s water to about five times as much as it normally pays for reservoir water. What does that mean, we’ve done everything we could? It means we aren’t ready to truly reduce our usage: we’re still out hunting for more water.

Photo credit: Alex Kay
Cachuma Lake – Santa Barbara, CA 2014.    Photo credit: Alex Kay

This isn’t just a California issue. It’s global. National Geographic reports that “the chances of a 35-year or longer “megadrought” striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.” California has always been the state people want to move to, a desirable place where you can live a great life and enjoy the finer things: beautiful natural scenery, great cities, diverse culture, forward thinking. California’s been the great escape from the doldrums. People love to vacation here. Now we’re learning that you can run, but you can’t hide. California may be free in spirit but it’s bound by the same global ecosystem as every other place, and changing weather patterns and increasing demand from a growing population are wreaking havoc on water supply.

Photo credit: Kenneth Cole Schneider
Photo credit: Kenneth Cole Schneider

The answer is to recognize that water will forever be in short supply, use it highly efficiently and learn to live with very little of it.


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2 thoughts on “Around the Web
The Drought in the News

  1. Hello Margie Grace, excellent article!

    I am in the process of determining how to create a more draught tolerant landscape in my yard in my area of Santa Clarita, CA, I have a few questions 1. Is there a more efficient way to water our lawns? Are there any systems that will filter grey water to allow watering of lawns, plants? What plants do best in zone 9?

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Here’s my feedback on your queries:
      1. Lawn irrigation: try MP-Rotator nozzles for high efficiency. Make sure you don’t have any overspray onto hardscape. Water when evaporation rates are low. Pick a lower-water-use lawn variety.

      2. Graywater – GW – systems are an art of their own. Check your local health code requirements – typically GW can only be stored for 24 hours and can’t be used for overhead watering. Best to consult a local GW consultant.

      3. Wow – that’s a really broad question. I recommend you refine your search to the applicable Sunset zone for your locale and work from the Sunset Western Garden Book. Also, look around your neighborhood for gardens/plants you like and take note of what they are. (Hint: take photos of plant to local retail nursery for plant i.d.) Finally, a trip to a good local nursery can net you a lot of useful recommendations. Be sure to look for plants relevant to your conditions (exposure, soil type, watering method, etc.).

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