“Necessity is the mother of invention,” they say, and never has that statement felt more true than with water and energy efficiency standards.
So, it’s no surprise that the emergency drought being declared over by Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) back in early April has made many water sustainability advocates concerned that water issues will now take a backseat to California’s other pressing issues.
But is that really a cause for concern?
Here are 3 things that indicate the water crisis isn’t actually “over” and water conservation is here to stay:
1. Roughly 25% of California is still in some category of surface drought… And this year's rainy season is over.
California's rainy season runs from October to March and this last rainy season has certainly been one for the record books. In fact, it now ranks 2nd all time in the last 122 years of record keeping. But even with all of that rain roughly 25% of California still remains in some category of surface drought. It's clear it will take many more years of rain to repair the damage of the last 6 years and it would be foolish to assume California's next rainy season will be as productive this year's has been.
2. The impact of climate change and rising temperatures aren’t just accepted, but expected.
The heavy rains at the beginning of the year marked a stark departure from the previous 6 years of sunshine and unseasonably warm weather. But the rhetoric by not only members of the media but also California's policymakers indicates that the perception is that drought could be the new norm and “the next drought could be around the corner.”
Water efficiency advocates should rest easy knowing that their concerns are at least being recognized.
Lake Shasta, during and after drought emergency.
3. Surface drought wasn’t ever the real problem. The dwindling groundwater supply was and still is.
What the Governor of California actually declared an end to was the surface drought. It is true that our snowpack and our lakes are looking much healthier now but there has still been years, perhaps even decades, of over-pumping our precious groundwater sources. This problem was certainly compounded by the surface drought as the lack of percipitation meant our groundwater supply couldn’t recharge itself, but ultimately it has been our careless over-pumping of groundwater that has led to empty wells, shrinking underground aquifers, and California ground levels literally sinking at record paces -- in some areas by as much as 18 inches a year.
And perhaps the most alarming thing is that although groundwater makes up an estimated 60% (or more) of the state's annual water supply no one even knows exactly how much of it we have left.
Josh Fuller, Marketing & Sales
Josh Fuller is a 3-year team member at Nexus eWater and leads Nexus’ inside sales and marketing activities. Josh earned his BA in Communication and Information Sciences in 2009 and his MBA in 2014, both from The University of Alabama.