State: California’s severe drought leads to drastic saving measures.
By Jose Servin
College officials are taking Governor Jerry Brown’s mandatory water restrictions seriously.
Water-saving measures now on campus include: the planting of drought-tolerant vegetation; ensuring heating, ventilation, and air conditioning lines are not leaking, updating irrigation valves to prevent runoff; and the use of artificial grass that does not need to be watered on the new soccer field, said SAC President Erlinda Martinez at a Board of Trustees meeting April 13.
“We are proactively conserving our potable water and trying to manage our utility expenses,” Martinez said. She also spoke of a project to update bathroom and lab fixtures in the oldest buildings on campus: R, H and T.
Gov. Brown’s executive order for the mandatory restriction, the first in history, requires cities and towns to reduce water usage by 25 percent.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a coalition of 26 cities and water agencies that provides about half of all the water to Southern California, voted to begin cutting allocations to its members by 15 percent beginning July 1.
If an agency or city requires more water than what it is allocated, it will face penalties such as a significant increase in water price. The money charged to that city or agency will be used to fund water- conservation programs.
In the past 20 years, Orange County has seen a reduction in usage.
“Since 1990, per capita water use in the region has declined by about 25 percent. Today, we use less imported water than we did 25 years ago, even though the region has added 5 million more people, ” said Randy Record, Metropolitan board chairman, in a press release following the MWD’s decision to cut water allocations.
Orange County sits above a natural supply of groundwater managed by the Orange County Water District. This source is used by up to 75 percent of residents and businesses in Orange County. It is replenished through the Santa Ana River by rainfall collected in the Prado Dam in Riverside, and to a lesser extent by water imported by the MWD.
Imported water serving the 26 agencies of the MWD comes from the Colorado River Basin and Northern California.
Despite water consumption by residents being down on average, this has done little to offset California’s drought. The hottest year on record for the Golden State was 2014, preceded by the driest year on record in 2013. California’s snowpack is at a historical low since record keeping began in 1950.
It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water for California to recover from current drought conditions, according to a study of satellite images released by NASA in December.
About 20 million people are currently living in areas of exceptional drought, according to the U.S Drought Monitor.
While conservation efforts are underway for residents and businesses, agriculture alone accounts for about 80 percent of the water usage in California.