Battling Drought: Californians Embrace Change for Water Conservation

Climate change is happening rapidly, and for Californians, this can mean expecting more frequent and intense droughts. In the past, California has seen extreme droughts such as the notorious 2014 drought which caused a state of emergency. Fortunately, there are possible changes that we can implement in our everyday routine to reduce our contribution to climate change. 

After reading David Pogue’s book, “How to Prepare for Climate Change,” I shared his suggestions for water conservation with local Bay Area residents. These residents also shared their current efforts towards conserving water and what they can do better.

In Pogue’s chapter, “Preparing for Drought,” he listed many potential changes that can be made to conserve water at home. One of the first suggestions from Pogue for conserving water is to limit how much you water your lawn. Most lawns are made of grass which is why in his book he describes lawns as “water hogs.” He highlights alternative furnishings besides grass for your lawn such as clover, moss or ornamental grasses. These alternatives require significantly less maintenance and can conserve water on a massive scale.

When speaking with Makayla Marshall, a resident of Pittsburg, she gave a testament to the low maintenance saying, “My family doesn’t really water the lawn much. It wastes a lot of water and it just seems like a lot of work anyways.”

Another suggestion that Pogue offered was to not leave the water running. This is a common fault that many make. Oftentimes we don’t realize how much water can be wasted by common habits like letting the water run while brushing your teeth or rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. 

The EPA states that when you leave the water running while brushing your teeth, you waste about four gallons of water. If you follow your dentist’s recommendations and brush twice a day, that’s eight gallons of water being wasted per day.

Oakland resident Tui Chitekwe shared, “I’ll leave the water running when I’m brushing my teeth sometimes. When I catch myself doing it I immediately turn it off.”  

Hermes Ramos, an Alameda resident also spoke on the efforts his household is making to limit the amount of time water is running. He shared that “some of the most impactful ways to conserve water are at times some of the most obvious. My household became notorious for long showers. Recently we’ve developed a system to minimize our water usage which includes limiting our shower to 10 minutes per person and only using water when necessary to rinse the soap off. ”

While I was lucky to speak with residents who were already following Pogue’s suggestions, there are still many who aren’t. The rapid pace of climate change could have drastic effects on a place like California. Droughts in particular would affect the state the most. Some of the consequences of droughts that Pogue listed were restricted food supply, more wildfires, blockaded cargo, unemployment, crime, disruption and civil unrest.

It may seem unrealistic to expect everyone to make big changes to their everyday routines. However, climate change will create obstructive consequences if more efforts aren’t made by everyone. 

For Californians, this means residents should try to conserve water as much as possible. Making small changes like not letting the water run, watering your grass less, or limiting the amount of times you flush, could have a big impact on slowing the effects of climate change. 

“I think back to the wildfires we had at the beginning of the pandemic. It was scary and even though that was caused by something else, one day it could be caused by a drought,” Marshall said.

She continued to say, “Conserving water is important because I don’t want to live somewhere with food shortages and a bunch of wildfires. I hope everyone does their part to conserve what they can.”

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