The County Voice

Drought Emergency: Quick — DO Something

There is some rain due in Northern California this week, and while it will be a welcome end to a record-breaking streak of winter days with no precipitation, it will not mean an end to the drought. After two previous dry years, and the extremely dry winter we’ve had so far, rivers and reservoirs are at roughly half of where they should be this time of year. The “snow pack” in the Sierra is virtually non-existent. That may change a little bit in the next day or two. Any amount of rain is welcome, but this week’s forecast is not really cause for celebration.

The frustrating thing about a drought is, there isn’t anything you can DO about it. When there’s a problem of some kind, I think most of us are used to doing something about it. Whatever that something might be, we like to take action. But, you can’t make it rain, you can’t divert enough water from somewhere else to make a difference and you can’t find an alternative to water.

Now, having said that—there are some things you can NOT do about the drought. You can not wash your car, or water your lawn. You can not leave the water running while you brush your teeth, and you can not take a 10 minute shower when 3-5 will do. Conservation does count as “doing something” about the drought, even if it doesn’t feel active. The things I’ve just mentioned all apply to residential users—but there are things agriculture and industry can do to reduce water usage too. To a great degree–they are already doing them.

There is something else you can do about the drought: stay informed, and share the information you get with people in your community. CSAC can help you with that. We are part of a growing statewide coalition of water stakeholders that is coordinating our efforts to share the best and latest information. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is leading the charge but there are several state and federal agencies involved, including the Department of Water Resources and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

The first phone meeting of that group was held today and already there are talks under way about community forums and other methods and venues to keep people around the state on the same page with drought information. CSAC already has a link to various drought resources on our home page, and we are working with the coalition to provide a conduit of information in both directions.

If your county is doing something innovative to reduce water usage, let us know, and we’ll make sure the rest of the coalition gets the same information. If you have questions, ask. If we don’t know the answer we’ll direct you to someone who does. Moreover, share this information in your community. We can’t make it rain, but with the right information, we can use what little water we have as wisely as possible!

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