Kiss your green lawns goodbye
The water you drink every day may have been drunk by the dinosaurs. The amount of water on earth has stayed the same for over four billion years and is constantly being recycled. Getting access to clean, dependable water supplies is vital to the survival of the human species.
We need to change the way we use water and the amount of water we use as climate change (or just a really bad drought) changes the amount of water that California can provide.
When I first visited Palm Springs, I was amazed at the plants and grass inside the beautiful resorts that looked like a lush jungle like landscape. It was common sense to me that it was not possible to grow these plants without importing water from somewhere else. Up until now this water has mainly come from the Colorado River and the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
When I moved to San Diego, I loved how everyone’s lawn was green and beautiful and the weather was perfect. Driving outside of neighborhoods, especially through Marine Air Station Miramar, I never noticed how there was no grass and there were no trees. I mean, I noticed but it did not completely occur to me that the green lawns and beautiful vegetation surrounding San Diego homes was an aberration. The local water supply did not support the type of plants that were being grown. This could only mean one thing, that the water was imported from somewhere else.
As long as the mountains have a large snowpack that helps feed the rivers and streams and aqueducts, which transport water to San Diego, this is generally not a problem. Everyone gets enough water. We are lucky in the United States that we do not know what it is like to turn on our water faucet and get nothing.
California depends on the snowpack in the mountains to get through the hot summer and dry autumn. According to a USA Today article published on April 1, 2015, California snowpack levels were at 6 percent of normal for the end of March. Reservoir levels are at their lowest since the 1950s. Just drive past Lake Hodges in Escondido and look out at it. It’s gone from the freeway. You can’t see it.
Not only are we not getting enough rainfall, but the rainfall we do get has not been converted to snow in our mountains due to higher than normal winter temperatures in those mountains. I remember when I first moved to California from New Jersey how impressed I was with Big Bear Mountain. It could be seen from Fallbrook covered in snow and it looked amazing! I have not seen Big Bear look like that for a couple of years now. No snow in the mountains means no water to get us through the summer.
This all brings me to that fact that we have to conserve water. The biggest use of water (besides farming and feeding cattle) is our landscaping. If everyone voluntarily used less water there would be no need for restrictions.
Unfortunately, many people do not seem to take the drought seriously or think it is some conspiracy aligned with climate change to take their guns. In these times it is the government’s responsibility to place limits on how much water everyone can use to ensure that we never turn on our faucets and nothing comes out.
Water is a finite resource and until we begin building desalinization plants like they have in the Middle East we will have to use our precious water resources wisely. Having green lawns just does not seem that important.