The Water Dilemma: 10 Things Californians Can Do To Make It Better

By Janneke Lang


Last week, someone on Reddit posted this “First World Problems” meme. Coincidentally, Governor Jerry Brown declared that California is in its driest condition since the state’s founding more than 100 years ago. The meme is sadly ironic, but it points to a problem that I’m not sure people are taking seriously.

Everyone needs water to survive, so we take it for granted that it will always be available.   And yet, resources are limited and will become scarcer as global warming continues to change our climate. California receives 65 percent of its water from Sierra Nevada snow melt, which is at 17 percent of its average level. Governor Jerry Brown is urging each Californian to reduce personal water usage by 20 percent. Twenty percent!

The state's agriculture and livestock industry is being forced to lay off workers and sell animals because the water supply cannot sustain their needs. Our native fish, vital for commercial and recreational fishing, and their eggs are dying in dried up streams. Small towns are enforcing severe rationing that requires businesses to cut water usage by 35 percent. Air pollution stagnates above the state's busiest cities without storms and rain. It might even get to the point that California's finest environmental protection laws will no longer be able to protect rivers, endangered species, and sensitive ecological systems as water instead goes for human consumption.

Photo of Hetch Hetchy reservoir courtesy of Ryan Park

Photo of Hetch Hetchy reservoir courtesy of Ryan Park

At what point does a looming environmental and economic disaster affect people so that they act differently? Each of us will be affected. So what can you do in your day-to-day life to reduce your water consumption? Here are some simple suggestions:

1) Turn off the water when you're not using it. While you're brushing your teeth, washing your face, and yeah, while you're shaving.

2) Make sure your toilet is running properly and your pipes aren’t leaking.

3) Water your lawn only when it really needs it and in the early morning before the spray can evaporate from the sun; make sure you only irrigate plants, not the pavement.

4) Time how long it takes for you to take a quick shower and create a playlist that lasts that length of time. You will decrease your water usage by just being aware of the time it takes you to shower.

5) Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk instead of spraying it down. Plus, you'll get a workout!

6) Cover your pool to keep the water from evaporating.

7) Wash your car with a bucket, not a free-running hose.

8) Only run the dishwasher or laundry machine when it's full.

9) Save your kitchen rinse water to water your flower beds.

10) And if you’re really committed, when it’s yellow, let it mellow.

Think about the economic, environmental, and health impact that California's drought imposes. What are you doing about it?

DSC_0182_bJanneke is a sunshine-loving and inspiration-seeking wanderer. She is passionate about people and their natural ability to stand for one another. She is driven to make a difference in what people really care about. Janneke lives every day as a creation and wants nothing more than for people to be inspired into action by what she creates.

After completing her Bachelors Degree in Politics and Philosphy from UC Santa Cruz, Janneke has worked as a preschool teaching assistant in Mexico, a food runner at a local diner, an office manager for a political party, and a Technical Writer for a manufacturing company. With her varied background and love of adventure, she cherishes the people she meets and the relationships she has created.