By Ana Gomez Salcido
The San Diego County Water Authority has declared San Diego’s drought over and has pushed to see regulations lifted, but environmental activists still push for water conservation measures.
Recent storms have replenished many of the state’s reservoirs and built an impressive Sierra snowpack, but 47 percent of the state remains in at least moderate drought conditions, including all of San Diego County.
“A few months of heavy rain won’t get us rid off the drought problem,” said San Diego Coastkeeper Executive Director Matt O’Malley to La Prensa San Diego. “We also have a water supply problem.”
According to O’Malley, there are a lot of mixed messages in the community about the drought and water supply issues. The state drought can only be declared over by California Governor Jerry Brown.
“California didn’t get heavy rain for several years, and we ended up with an extreme drought,” said Wildcoast Communications and Policy Director Fay Crevoshay. “It’s not rational to waste water after only a year of heavy rain.”
Also, the State Water Resources Control Board just extended water conservation regulations that were implemented in response to the severe drought California has been experiencing over the last several years. The regulations prohibit wasteful practices such as watering lawns after it rains, and require water agencies to report conservation numbers.
“These regulations have helped Californians rise to the occasion and show what they can do with conservation, while providing flexibility based on differing local water supply conditions across the state,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, in a press release. “We are beyond happy that water conditions continue to improve this year, but the rainy season isn’t over yet and some areas of the state continue to suffer significant drought impacts. As glorious as the first half of the season has been, we know that weather can change quickly, and vary depending on where you are, so it is most prudent to wait a bit longer until close of the rainy season to take stock of the statewide situation and decide what to do next.”
While many parts of the state have benefited from this year’s rain and snow, other areas continue to experience the effects of drought, including Central Valley communities that still depend on water tanks and bottled water. Groundwater, the source of at least a third of California’s water supplies, remains significantly depleted in many areas. California has undergone more than five years of extreme drought with significant impacts to communities, agriculture, and fish and wildlife.
There are several ways San Diegans can help conserve water without impacting the quality of life. One conservation measure is to have rain barrels installed at home, and use the collected rain to water plants and yards when it’s not rain season. Also, to conserve water is better to water plants just before nightfall because there is less evaporation.