Even in a wet year in California, nature’s bounty of water is no longer enough to satisfy all the state’s demands. Our water supply improved this year, but recharging over-drafted groundwater basins in the San Joaquin Valley and overcoming the massive deficits suffered by California’s ecosystems and endangered fisheries are still lingering issues from six years of drought. Throw in a growing population and climate uncertainty and our states water supply will be in deficit for the foreseeable future.
If the most straightforward definition of drought is the simple mismatch between the amounts of water nature provides and the amounts of water that humans and the environment demand, California is in a permanent drought.
During the height of the drought in 2015, residents were mandated to reduce water consumption by 25 percent. There were also restrictions on landscape irrigation. Urban landscape irrigation was restricted to two days per week. Many sought relief by taking out lawns and replacing them with drought tolerant and native plants, rocks, wood chips and other materials that lessened water demand. This really helped our community stretch its water supply.
Not only did we meet the state’s mandate, we exceeded it! Most of this was achieved by reducing landscape irrigation and tightening up water use around the house.
Fast forward to 2017 and many gardeners are looking forward to working in their gardens after an abundance of rain this winter. But even with all the rain, we still need to conserve water. If you have lived in California for any length of time, you know droughts come and go. When droughts come, we all cut back on our water use. When droughts go, it’s easy to fall back into our water-wasting ways. But we can’t afford to do that this time around.
California is certain be in drought again. We don’t know when, but it is sure to happen. That’s why it’s good to be proactive and make a water-wise garden now before the next drought. Not only will you save water, but you will save money on your water bill and have less maintenance to do once your garden is established.
In San Benito County, landscape irrigation makes up over half of residential water use. Making sure your irrigation system is working efficiently and installing climate appropriate plants in your landscapes can really help our community conserve water.
The Water Resources Association of San Benito County can assist you by inspecting your irrigation system and making adjustments and recommendations if needed. They also have lists of drought-tolerant and native plants that do well in San Benito County. Plus they also have free, water-wise landscape plans. There are three themes from which to choose and each plan is valued more than $500 each.
Remember, water conservation starts with each and every one of us. We’re all in this together!
Call the Water Resources Association of San Benito County at (831) 637-4378 for a free leak check. We'll also check your irrigation system and set your controller — all free! Save money and help our community conserve water.
COMMENTARY: Political bullying detrimental to community
Mayor Mia Casey discusses the detrimental effects of political bullying on our community and the importance of civil discourse and respect during council meetings.