By Nichole Morgan, California Water Resources Control Board Member
For some reason, the day we learned about the water cycle in science class stayed with me. Then, many years later when deciding on a career I knew that I wanted to help bring clean water to homes that currently didn’t have access to safe and reliable drinking water and to protect the environment for future generations.
Now that I serve on the board of the state agency that is responsible for protecting and managing California’s water resources, my view of what it means to ensure people have access to water has expanded, especially as we grapple with another drought.
California is only getting hotter and drier. We’re seeing it all over the news as the water crisis hits closer and closer to home. Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources, put our harsh reality into perspective when she said, “the challenge is there is no water.” As Californians, we’re no strangers to the drought, but as we anticipate another dry year, it’s more important than ever for all of us to take action to save our water for today and years to come.
It is imperative for us to understand that the drought truly impacts everyone. From our state’s ecosystems to its economy, we all rely on an ample water supply; without it, we all suffer. Climate change is ultimately driving these threats to California, including the dire drought conditions, low reservoir levels and parched landscapes seen throughout the West. Unfortunately, we can already see some of the consequences of the overuse of water. California’s fish and wildlife are facing severe challenges, threatening the survival of species, including our iconic Chinook salmon. The drought also affects businesses across California, especially small business, like family-owned restaurants and hotels. Many business owners are already struggling to reconcile dried out wells and limited water supply, in addition to still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Water is essential not only to keep our economy healthy, but to keep our communities thriving with business that foundation to many of our communities.
Now is the time to strengthen conservation efforts and make active changes to save water. We know that it can be hard to change our habits when it comes to conserving water, but the smallest changes really can make a difference. If we all make little changes in our daily routine to save water, it adds up. Below are some simple steps we can all follow to conserve water both indoors and out.
Inside the Home:
1. Wash your produce in the container instead of under running water.
2. Only use your dishwasher and washing machine for full loads.
3. Install low-flow shower heads as well as taking shorter showers. Showers under 5 minutes can save about 15 gallons, saving you money and the planet!
4. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth and soaping your hands.
5. Install a high-efficiency (HET) 1.28 gallons-per flush toilet. Check with your water supplier for current rebate information.
Outside the Home:
1. Water your yard in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
2. Check your sprinkler system and adjust them so that only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street to eliminate any wasteful runoff.
3. Plant drought-resistant trees and plants! There are so many options to create a beautiful landscape that conserves water – succulents and California poppies are great options.
4. Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks, patios and walkways instead of hosing them down.
5. If you have a pool, install a pool cover to reduce evaporation and filter backwash. And, if draining your pool is necessary, make sure to find a use for that water.
We know it won’t be easy, but it’s up to us to make the necessary changes to conserve the water that we need. Let’s make sure our kids and future generations get to enjoy the California that we know and love. Together, we can make our water last. Visit www.saveourwater.com to learn more about what you can do to help.