California’s Continuing Water Crisis - 2022 Edition


What’s happening? What are the rules? Who will be effected? How to do it right.

What’s happening?

It’s not actually about lack of rain or snowpack. According to the UCLA Institute for Environment and Sustainability:

“The past three years are not record-breakers, according to weather data for the past century. Similarly, paleoclimate studies show that the current drought is not exceptional given the natural variations in precipitation of the past seven centuries. Nor can it be confidently said that the current drought bears the unequivocal imprint of climate change driven by increasing greenhouse gases, since the low precipitation is well within the bounds of natural variability.”

So what’s the problem?

• Increasing evaporation

• Depletion of groundwater aquifers

• Waste and over dependence upon external sources like the Colorado River

Who is using what?

• Of all water on planet earth only 3% is fresh water, and 2/3’s of that is locked up in polar ice. All of human life survives on less than 1% of the water on earth.

• Of all water that falls on California 50% is used by the environment and 40% by agriculture and 10% urban.

• But the issue is more complex than “fixing agriculture” because each region secures its own water supply.

What are the rules?

Lawn irrigation accounts for 70% of our local water usage.

MWD Customers - Outdoor watering restricted to one-day-a-week, limiting users to 80 gallons of water a person a day – a 36% drop from the 125 gallons the average Southern Californian typically uses.

LA City residents will be allowed to water 2 days per week.

Who will be effected?

More than six million Californians across 80 cities in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino Counties. See map.

Photo: MWD

PHOTO CREDIT: MWD

Are there exceptions?

Even once the new rules are in effect, you’ll still be allowed to hand-water trees and other perennials to keep them from dying.

You will also be able to run drip or other high-efficiency irrigation systems more than once a week if the volume is consistent with what a less efficient system would spend in one day.

How to do it right … Redesign the city from the top-down and the bottom up.

Top Down

The Hyperion plant near Dockweiler State Beach processes 81% of the city's sewage and discharges 190 million gallons a day into a five-mile outfall pipe in Santa Monica Bay. LA recycles only 2% of that water, but has a plan to recycle ALL of it by 2035.

The Los Angeles River is a storm drain. During a healthy storm more run-off water runs down the LA River in a couple of days than what Los Angeles would use in a year. Currently, the run-off simply empties into the Pacific.

Desalination is an advancing technology but also a costly and controversial one. Thursday, May 12th the California coastal Commission decided the fate of the proposed Poseidon Desalination plant in Huntington Beach and will likely set the tone for whether California will pursue further plant development elsewhere.

Bottom Up - That means us!

• Change out eastern grass lawns to California native grasses or other drought tolerant turf - Dymondia, Kurapia, UC Verde Grass, Native grasses (delta bluegrass.com).

• DO NOT replace lawn with artificial turf!

• DO NOT immediately retreat to rock and cactus yards.

• Plant more TREES!

• Plant native and drought tolerant plants. To learn more go to: TheodorePayne.org

• Drip irrigate EVERYTHING and AT NIGHT.

• Rotary sprinkler heads

• Sub-surface soaker systems for lawns

• Smart irrigation controllers

• Remove paving to allow water penetration into soil.

• Rainwater capture only really works when it rains, but consider diverting household “grey water” for irrigation.

• If possible, redesign drainage to minimize how much water leaves your property.


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