The prominence of droughts in California

When will California escape this drought?

Neel Vats and Madhav Syamala

Brown, dead lawns and dried up fountains scatter the Californian landscape as prolonged drought reshapes the environmental conditions and lifestyles of residents. Since 2020, droughts have severely escalated in California. As a result, Gov. Gavin Newsom has put various measures in place to reduce water consumption. 

“In July 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on Californians to voluntarily cut water use by 15%,” the LA Times said. “Since then, residential water use overall in the state has decreased by 4%.”

The mandated cuts have undoubtedly impacted residents. 

“There have been restrictions on how much water we can use in our pool in our backyard,” Oak Park High School senior Dillan Kapadia said. “My neighbors completely renovated their backyard to remove their pool because they didn’t want an empty pool.”

Kapadia is one of 37.2 million people affected by drought in California. Approximately 95 percent of the California population is negatively affected by the drought. This is especially concerning because droughts for extended periods of time can negatively affect millions of people’s health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drought can cause long-term health problems, including shortages and a decrease in the quality of our  drinking water. It also impacts the quality of our food; 100 percent of soil in America is considered dry, and 43.1% of California’s orchards and low vegetable fields have been removed.

Despite the recent rain we have received, this is California’s driest year since 1986. According to ABC10, “The Department of Water Resources and the United States Geological Survey estimates that 140% of average precipitation is required to get California out of a drought.” Unless Mother Nature graces us with 25.2 inches of rain this year, we will only continue to run out of water. 

According to American Rivers, a viable solution to help combat the drought is to reduce water usage and switch to more sustainable water uses. This can be expanding our existing usage of recycled water, replenishing our groundwater aquifers and increasing our flexibility in crop and municipal uses.

Many districts in California are already executing some of these ideas. The California Water Service Company Westlake is applying weekly water restrictions such as overwatering and overhosing to help combat the drought situation. You may have noticed the results of these restrictions; people are either letting their lawns die or spending the money to replace them with turf or drought resistant plants. 

These kinds of adjustments are necessary not only to alleviate the impacts of the drought, but to move toward a more sustainable future. Ultimately, there are many factors that impact climate change that we cannot control, but we can do our part to help by limiting water usage and utilizing alternative sources of water. 

“If we use water wisely at all times, more water will be available to us and to plants and wildlife when a drought happens,” National Drought Mitigation Center said.

So, what can you do to help? Perhaps, set a weekly water reduction goal. You can spend less time in the shower; don’t let the water run while you wash dishes or brush your teeth; or use recycled water from your house to water your plants. Whatever it is, begin to become aware of your water usage so then you can be part of the solution in our fight against the drought.