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California Drought Resources


The Washington Post reported this week a giant reservoir that supplies a California county’s drinking water is nearly empty. Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer — 7 percent capacity. Santa Barbara, Montecito, Solvang and Buellton are popular cities that are impacted and all have done an excellent job with water conservation for years.

In May California suspended its mandatory statewide 25% water reduction for urban water use. The goal in lifting is to allow the local water agencies to take control of their water situation. After all who knows it better than they do, this is, in my opinion a good policy. Unfortunately many homeowners in California mistook the reversal from the State as a sign the drought is getting better. Articles like the one about Lake Cachuma better reflect the situation in Southern California.

For most of us all we have wanted to do since we were teenagers was control our destiny. Make our own choices and live with the outcomes of our choices. It’s time to start making serious decisions about water in California and the information below will help us make more informed decisions.

U. S. Drought Monitor

A resource I frequently use is the U. S. Drought Monitor. This page is a weekly map of drought conditions that is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. It provides a visual of drought conditions across the United States. If you want more specific data it allows you to click on regions and states to get more detail. So clicking on California shows you the specifics of the California drought. It also shows the history or trends for the last week, last three months and last year. This helps identify trends. You are either going into a drought or coming out of a drought.

Surface Water and Ground Water

To fully understand the drought in California you need to first understand the difference between surface water and ground water and how the two are interconnected and at times jointly managed. This report from U.C. Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences clearly explains the two and their interconnection.

5 Tips to Manage Outdoor Water During the Drought

1.Implement irrigation system and component upgrades that increase water savings.     

2.Install a smart controller.

3.Aerate turf and add mulch around trees, shrubs and planting beds.

4.Prioritize areas that require maximum aesthetic value so water can be applied prudently.

5.Plan for the short-term, three year vision and long-term (10 year) needs of your property. This is all about how your property is going to look in 10 years compared to other properties. The value of your property depends on this plan.

Extra Credit – Weekly Colorado River Report

For those of you who really want to follow closely what is happening with water in the West you can view the weekly Colorado River report from the U.S Bureau of Reclamation. This report provides details on the conditions of water in the lower Colorado River which supplies water to California. The Colorado River is the principle resource for water in California and six other states. California receives an allocation of about 27% form the Colorado River, which is the largest allocation of water for any state.

I hope these resources help you to manage the California drought. I’m sure you have some favorite resources of your own and hope you will share them in the comments section. Please remember a 25% reduction is not difficult to reach. It requires several small changes helping prevent making big changes in the future.

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Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.



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