Both the drought in California and the drought in Texas are severe and have been going on for several years. Check out the animation at the end of this post to see how the drought has changed just in 2014.
California Drought Response
California’s response to the drought has been anemic, very late in coming and somewhat ineffective. Governor Brown made a passionate plea to curb water use 20% in January 2014 and called upon the public yet again in April 2014 to redouble the water conservation effort. However, it was not until July 2014, when the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) approved emergency drought regulations to prohibit the application of potable water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff. Violators of this drought regulation face fines of $500 a day. Prior to the fines being implemented water use actually INCREASED 1%.
According to an AP interview with water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus, “If fines fail to promote conservation, the board would consider other steps such as requiring water districts to stop leaks in their pipes, which account for an estimated 10 percent of water use, stricter landscape restrictions and encouraging water agencies to boost rates for consumers who use more than their share of water.”
Texas Drought Response
Conversely, the Texas drought response has been in effect for years. In south central Texas, the Edwards Aquifer recently dropped to a 20 year low. As a result the Edwards Aquifer Authority made the call to move from Stage 3 to Stage 4 water restrictions. Stage 4 means a 40% reduction in the pumping of water from the Edwards Aquifer. In the City of San Marcos the penalties for breaking Stage 4 conservation rules range from $100 per violation per day up to $2,000 for repeat offenses. Under Stage 4, City officials actively patrol and log instances of drought restriction violations and send out notices to water customers who break the water conservation rules. Stage 4 restricts the use of sprinklers to one day every other week on a designated weekday between 6-10 a.m. or 8 p.m.-midnight. Drip irrigation systems are allowed to water one day every week.
Even in the best of times, Texas has permanent water restrictions in place. While the water restrictions vary between water authorities, typically they include some or all of the following:
- Waste of water is prohibited at all times. Waste includes allowing water to puddle or run off a property, operating a sprinkler system with broken or misaligned heads, and failing to repair leaks.
- Irrigation with sprinklers is prohibited during the day, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
- Charity car washes are prohibited unless held at a commercial car wash.
- At-home car washing is allowed any time but must be done using a hand-held bucket or hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff device.
- Use of non-recirculating decorative water features is prohibited at all times.
Water conservation in Texas has become a permanent fixture in most people’s lives.
Drought Response in Your Community
One of Richard’s favorite sayings is, “You are either going into or coming out of a drought”. California, Texas and all points between may find drought relief in 2015, but it will take years of above average rain before aquifers and reservoirs are replenished. Water restrictions will need to stay in effect for years. When the drought comes to your community will you be prepared to reduce your water use by 40% or possibly more? Is your landscape prepared to only be watered once every other week?