According to the California Department of Water Resources, “2013 closed as the driest year in recorded history for many areas of California, and current conditions suggest that there is no change in sight for 2014.” Recent studies show the snowpack statewide is at 7% of the average April 1 measurement, when the snowpack is usually at its peak before melting into streams and reservoirs. California needs to get 93% more snowpack by April to meet the average amount of snowpack. We know we will not meet the average snowpack measurement, so we have to find creative ways to reduce our water consumption.
|Currently, the majority of California’s precipitation is 25-70% of its average precipitation. Photo from: http://www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/|
Before we talk about how we can adapt to the drought, we have to remember that we are facing a problem that has been building for decades: California’s water management system. About 75% of California’s water supply comes from Northern California while 80% of the water demand is in Southern California. Some of California’s water issues are the environmental degradation in the California Bay-Delta, aging levees, and draining aquifers. This drought will not only test how we adjust to the decrease of the water supply, this drought will test every aspect of California’s water management system.
As a result of the drought here in California, the governor urged residents to cut their water usage by 20 percent. An average person uses about 100 gallons of water daily, which means we need to cut 20 gallons from our daily use. To understand how easily 20 gallons can be saved, we calculated how changing one fixture can make a big difference.
A normal shower head uses up to 5 gallons of water per minute. An average shower is 7 minutes long, which equals 35 gallons of water per shower. A low flow shower head uses about 2 gallons of water per minute, which will use 14 gallons of water in an average shower. By switching from a normal shower head to a low flow shower head, we can already cut 20 gallons of water from our daily use. By combining water efficient solutions while practicing conservation, we can greatly reduce our personal water use.
This drought is a crisis that can only be alleviated by us being proactive about our own water consumption. There are a lot of ways to save water and they all need to be implemented now, it’s hard to break old habits, but this drought is real and we need to make serious changes to our daily routine. Some simple but very important steps we can incorporate in our lives is to take showers instead of baths, run full loads of laundry, and use the dishwasher to wash dishes instead of hand washing dishes. Ditch the thirsty plants and lawn for succulents and an indigenous garden that requires a very little amount of water. If you keep the thirsty garden instal an intelligent watering system that only goes on at night when there is a minimal amount of water lost to heat. Wash your car less and use waterless washing techniques when you do wash your car. Pavement and brick do not need water to be cleaned, pick up a broom and rake. Steps like these helps to reduce water consumption. We made a color coded chart to show how much water we can save by breaking our habits. We want you to be more aware of how much water you consume to inspire you to change your habits.
During droughts we have to change our habits for more water efficient habits, but to effectively manage our water, we have to plan for droughts and other natural disasters. Bullitt Center in Seattle pushes for a net zero water system by flawlessly combining innovative water technologies. As seen below, their integrated design uses rainwater as their only source of water, including drinking, which will then be recycled and reused. In droughts, rainwater harvesting is not a practical solution. Bullitt Center’s integrated design thinking can help us have a reliable water supply before droughts occur so when we are in a drought, it won’t be a crisis. We need to come to terms with the drought and embrace new habits.
|Photo from: http://www.2020engineering.com/LID.LEED.LivingBuildings/2-LivingBuildingChallenge/2-LBC%202020ProjectExamples/1-Bullitt.pdf|