What a Difference Two Months Make in Drought Stricken California—And It’s Not Good

“The entire state has been in severe drought since May, but more of it has since fallen into more severe categories – ‘extreme’ and ‘exceptional.’ Nearly 22% more of California was added into the exceptional drought category in the last week alone.”—Joseph Serna, “California breaks drought record as 58% of state hits driest level,” Los Angeles Times

“Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is … and how bad it could be. There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state.”— State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus

Intensity Levels:

Yellow – Abnormally Dry

Peach – Moderate Drought

Orange – Severe Drought

Red – Extreme Drought

Maroon – Exceptional Drought

The Drought Monitor focuses on broad-scale conditions. Local conditions may vary. See accompanying text summary for forecast statement.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that California is experiencing the worst drought since the federal government started releasing drought reports in the 1990s. And according to Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, this is the worst level of drought that California has had since the 1970s and 1920s.

Earlier this year Governor Brown asked California residences, businesses and public entities to voluntary reduce their water use by 20%. How did we do? Not so good. Most areas did reduce their water consumption, but not by 20%. The area with the largest reduction had a 13% water-use reduction. Unfortunately, the Orange County area was one of the few that increased, rather than decreased, its water use. Overall water use in California went up by about 1%. These are not good statistics, especially since we are in a severe drought that doesn’t show signs of letting up soon.

The result has been that the State Water Resources Control Board recently adopted new regulations that could result in fines for those who use water wastefully. These regulations, which go into effect in August, give cities and local areas the leeway to determine how to put these regulations into effect. However, local water agencies could receive fines of up to $10,000 per day if they are not implementing water-storage contingency plans, and individuals could be fined up to $500 per day by their local water agency if wasteful water practices are used. Some of the actions that could result in fines are allowing water from outdoor sprinklers to run onto streets or sidewalks, hosing down driveways and sidewalks, washing cars with hoses that do not have shutoff nozzles, and using water in decorative fountains that don’t recycle the water.

With all this in mind, now Is a good time to review some information from past posts that could help us all reduce our water use: IRWD Rebates for Outdoor Water-Saving Devices and IRWD Indoor Water-Use Rebates.