It’s Drought Season

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Starting May 1st, Marin County and most of California has declared an official drought. This notice has caused people to start to be more aware of the health of our state and how humans affect the ecosystem around us. While people often see that the drought only affects the landscape, it also has an effect on how much water civilians can use. While past statewide droughts have not been as strict, we are taking much more drastic measures such as increasing bill rates for those who consume more water. The plan has been outlined in multiple ways such as signage, letters, articles, and general advertising. The initiative to get the word out is being done by the Marin Municipal Water District .

Diving deeper into the subject, we need to look at the root cause for a drought. The most notable cause is ambient temperature. As the overall temperature increases, the more water evaporates. This will cause rivers, streams, and lakes to dry up in a matter of months. Obviously this can not be entirely stopped but, it is also a wake up call to us to realise what we do in our daily lives does have a drastic chain reaction with a multitude of other environmental features. Just doing one simple thing like riding a bike instead of driving in a car can have a big effect on our future.

As reported by the United States Geological Survey in 2015, people have been using more water than normal. This can be caused for multiple reasons, some being more people are gardening more, taking longer showers, washing their car at home and the list goes on. We need to be aware of how much water we use on a daily basis so we can all do our part to help the environment and the surrounding wildlife.

From data posted by Marinwater.org, the rain fall into Lake Lagunitas has been significantly lower in the past year. Past years have been water rich which is a far stretch from the  last year that has been much less. The average year-to-date rainfall is approximately 51 inches while in the past year we have only had about 20 inches of rain water that has precipitated into our reservoirs. To counter these environmental setbacks the Marin Water directors have made the decision to pump large amounts of water into a lake at higher elevation to keep them topped off to make up for the lost rainwater. Gathering more data from Marinwater.org, the information tells us that the current water supply in lake lagunitas is only at 54% capacity.

According to Jack Gibson, who is the Marin Water Board Director for Division One which represents Terra Linda, “I lived in Marin during the 1976-77 drought and saw the result firsthand. That drought served as a wake-up call. After the drought people became very aware of steps that needed to be taken. After that drought, the water district started its serious conservation program, implemented our recycled water program. I am not sure what changes will come from this drought, but I am sure, like the last drought, we learn things and make improvements. My guess is that at least one of those will be a more expansive recycled water program.”

While our water supply is not in grave danger, it is always good to realize that if we do not take action now we will be putting our environment in danger for a potential larger water shortage. While civilians will often not take the proper precautions to protect our environment, we should all put our front most foot forward to use water wisely. 

Furthermore, Director Gibson outlined how many gallons of water he thinks he uses in just one day,  “Like most people I am trying to cut down on how much I am using on a daily basis. I have cut down on watering outside and have buckets in the shower to salvage that water as much as possible. We are shooting for the goal set by the water district of a 40% reduction from our water use last year.” This is great advice for anyone who wants to start to conserve water in their daily lives. Simply saving your grey water for plants and gardens is a great way to make sure you are not using drinkable water to put back into the ground immediately.

Director Gibson answered one final question: Do you think the drought will affect you and your family? He responded “Definitely, I think it will affect all of us. It is the most serious water shortage Marin has had since the previous drought of record–1976-77. It will have a big impact on the whole community, both in people’s personal lives and in the local economy.” He brings up a good point. While the drought will have an effect on the environment and the surrounding landscape it is also good to realize water prices may go up. The higher the demand for water the higher the price will be. That being said if we all use 20-30% less water that can have a drastic effect on the future price of such a valuable resource.

While all the measures outlined above are a great starting point for you to take your own initiative to conserve water, it is also important to group together and do this as a collective community. If we have enough people participating we can have a very positive impact on the future of our environment and wildlife. 

Everyone should be doing their own part in this because we can’t make an impact on the environment if we do not have enough people willing to help. Make this a conversation in your household to make sure everyone knows what they should be doing to save our water!