Here in Claremont it’s a balmy 57⁰; the sun is shining on Green Beach, longboarders are letting their hair flow behind them in the soft February breeze, and California is facing the worst drought in 500 years. According to the United States Drought Monitor, Californians are facing “extreme drought” which is characterized by high danger of fire, limited access to drinking water, and planting and harvesting difficulties for California’s farmers.
Mother Jones, a leading source for liberal political news, tallies “nearly 500 fires in the state have burned more than 1,100 acres – more than 10 times the usual burn total for January.” NASA Science reports that “the drought is so bad, NASA satellites can see it from space.”
The situation is, in fact, so dire that California governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. For the first time in its 54 years of business, the state reservoir will no longer offer service to the 25 million people it previously served across 1 million acres of farmland (weather.com).
Los Angeles County (including Claremont and surrounding areas) is being hit hard for the first time in decades; Weather.com reports “no measurable rain fell in Los Angeles during January for only the fifth time since 1878.”
Government officials and conservation groups alike are urging Californians to save water in these desperate, dry times. The website Save Our Water (SaveOurh2o.org) offers both a series of tips and a water usage calculator to encourage individuals to reduce their water usage.
For example, they suggest readers “take five minute showers instead of ten minute showers…Save [up to] 25 gallons.” They also recommend a series of easy, high-impact adjustments to your daily schedule such as turning off the water while washing hair (save up to 150 gallons a month) or turning off the water when brushing teeth or shaving (save approximately 10 gallons a day).
The current drought is expected to continue for up to three years with devastating consequences that will affect the entire nation. According to Peter Gleick of The Huffington Post, may cost us around 1.7 billion in increased energy bills, high prices for Californian crops and farm insurance, a dramatic decrease in salmon stocks available for commercial fishing, and damage to the Golden State’s stock of gardens and natural wildlife. The full effects of this drought are inestimable as we may be only beginning to witness how dry California can get, however we encourage you to do what you can to conserve water and look out for your planet.
– Clancy Tripp CMC ’15