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Water shortage means residents need to conserve
Art deWerk - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Fortunately, it is finally starting to feel like winter, with the cooler temperatures and recent light rains. I have two points to make with this column. The first is driving safety. If and when we see some heavy rain, the roads will be particularly slick because of the many months of accumulated oils and grease from vehicular traffic. The roadway surfaces themselves also release oil since most streets as made of asphalt. By now, windshield wipers are not likely to work well because of UV and heat deterioration, so it is wise to check the condition of your windshield wipers for all your cars.

The second issue to take into account is the water shortage emergency. The water shortage this state is experiencing has been a long time coming. It is resulting primarily from a drought-like trend during the last several years, along with state water storage and distribution policies, agricultural and industrial water use practices and water usage by the general public. It took a long time to get this point where a dozen or more communities in California are facing a no-water situation within 30-60 days and most all other California cities are facing grave water shortages this year. And while we are in trouble already, if this current rainfall shortage continues, next year will be even worse. As I understand the facts, the last year has been the driest for California in 500 years.

The state, local, and federal governments are taking steps to help us deal with the water shortage, but one thing they cannot do is to create more rainfall. At the same time, the long term forecast suggests that we are in a several year drought cycle so the emergency we have now may well turn into a crisis.

All persons living and working in this state must take steps to curb water usage. People may have to change their home landscaping to reflect the water shortage. Whether lawns and other water-consuming landscape remains viable is a big question. Frankly, it appears that the most prudent step to take is to plan for alternative, low-maintenance, landscaping that consumes the least amount of water.

Residents should also consider taking other steps to conserve water, like installing water-saving toilets, low-flow shower heads and faucets and using pool covers to slow water evaporation. Stored water in reservoirs is the primary source of electricity, so when the demand for power is high during the coolest and hottest times of the year, more water has to be released to power the generators that create electricity. It is therefore important to use electricity sparingly throughout the year.

As is obvious, we are quickly headed for a water-shortage crisis and whether we come through this challenge successfully or not is entirely dependent on what all water users do to save this precious resource. Our economy and our wellbeing depends on the availability of an ample supply of clean water. We cannot wait any longer to do all that is possible to conserve water.