There is little doubt in my mind we are headed toward another drought in California. If you look at the drought monitor for California we are quickly trending in the wrong direction. It’s been a little over a year since Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought for California was officially over. Many periodicals and headlines proclaim the same great news. At the time I couldn’t help but wonder if the news was good or bad.
At first glance, it was reasonable to consider the news good. It truly would be good news if the drought were over due to a combination of wet weather and excellent conservation practices. Unfortunately, as I read the articles, I saw news about the snowpack, but not efficient irrigation practices. As we know, conditions can change dramatically in a short period of time. Remember, in early 2006 California had record rains. Then in 2007 we had drought emergencies in both Kings and Riverside Counties. This preceded the drought that just ended last year. My concern is that people will relax on their conservation efforts and start wasting water again. The 20 by 2020 initiative has been widely publicized in California, and I believe people were starting to see water go from invisible to invaluable.
So the drought ending made our water conservation jobs a little harder. We need to collectively get the word out more consistently. The Irrigation Association electronic newsletter mentioned this last year, “The key is we have to get the message out, and some people are not getting the message.” You can see the entire article here.
Last month federal forecasters said most of the Southwest, as well as parts of California and the Southeast, can expect drought conditions to worsen through July. The National Weather Service is telling us the current drought situation for the West is not optimistic, and fears it will move to the Central Rockies this summer. The snowpack in California on April 2 was about 55 percent the normal level of water for this time of year. So why aren’t we issuing some form of alert right now that things are moving to the more serious stage? I don’t want to wait for the drought to be severe enough that we have Governor Brown officially announce we are in a drought. Unfortunately, we usually solve problems after they happen. I recommend an elevated alert for drought so we can get in front of this problem. With an elevated alert, if we move to official drought conditions we don’t have to take such drastic actions.
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