The Benefits and Drawbacks of California’s Water Conservation Efforts
Since Governor Jerry Brown mandated that Californians reduce water consumption by 25%, they have risen to the challenge and saved 75 billion gallons of water-much more than government leaders anticipated.
While these conservation efforts have helped maintain residents’ water supplies during the drought, they have also caused some unexpected consequences.
What Have Californians Done to Conserve Water?
With a desire to stave off the drought, Californians have used some of the following conservation techniques:
- Shortened shower times. Residents shower for a shorter amount of time and even shower fewer times per week. Some residents who typically rely on well water-which is scarce right now-use mobile shower units.
- Leak repair. Leaking faucets could waste more than 20 gallons of water a day, so officials have encouraged residents to repair leaks as soon as possible.
- Potable water tanks. Tulare County residents get their water supply from wells, which are drying up. The Office of Emergency Service gave each home a potable water tank connected to the home’s plumbing system. Flushing reduction. Californians are encouraged to flush their toilets less frequently. Some people have also upgraded to water-saving toilets.
- Reduced lawn watering. Gardeners save water as they use recycled water for their plants. Many people have even let their lawns go brown entirely.
In addition to these measures, Californians have reduced their use of washing machines, dishwashers, and other devices that use water.
Of course, conserving water is necessary in the face of California’s drought. As they implement these water-saving measures, Californians achieve the following:
- Maintain agricultural production in the state
- Allow for a continued water supply
- Save each family money on water costs
- Save energy needed to pump water
These measures benefit not only Californians, but those in every state. After all, California supplies a huge portion of the country’s agriculture-99% of artichokes, 94% of plums, and 84% of peaches. So when Californians conserve water, they sustain agricultural production and prevent economic struggles.
Despite Californians’ efforts to preserve water, some unwelcome situations have occurred-some expected, and some largely unpredicted.
Tree Roots in Pipes
Once irrigation slowed, thirsty trees began searching for water wherever they can get it. During the drought, many tree roots have entered sewer pipes and grown there. Increasing numbers of tree roots in pipes damage the structures and raise costs to fix the problems.
Clogged Sewer Systems
Due to water conservation, the water flow through sewer pipes has decreased. This side effect has made it harder for solids to move through the pipes. As a result, solids in the pipes group together, damage pipes, and even causes sewer spills. Sanitation workers must spend increased time and money fixing the problems. The trapped solids also increase odors, a byproduct that is unwelcome by those who live near the clogged pipes.
Farmers have long used aquifers to extract groundwater for irrigation. With current drought conditions, agronomists must extract water from deeper areas in the earth. This costly process has greatly impacted low-income farmers. Plus, the groundwater reserve may be insufficient to meet the agriculture industry’s needs.
Of course, this fact doesn’t mean that Californians should stop conserving water. Without water conservation, there would be little water available for others to use. However, residents and governing leaders have become aware of the negative effects of low water use and are working to solve these problems as well.
In the wake of California’s drought and the struggles involved, we’ve all begun to realize how crucial water is to our society-and how detrimental the lack of water is to all of us. Keep reading our blog for more news and information about water.