California’s New Culture of Conservation

By Artun Ereren

Record high temperatures and images of empty reservoirs serve as constant reminders to Californians that a new era of water conservation inside and outside the home is crucial. In the Summer of 2015, Californians were called on by the State to embrace emergency conservation measures that intended on alleviating pressure on low water levels. Even though cities such as Yorba Linda and Beverly Hills were required to cut as much as 36% of water use, Californians responded to the Governor’s call by making changes across the board. Whiles agencies were purchasing less from water suppliers, the greatest response came from Californian residents who took the time to learn about the innovate ways to conserve.

Some of the most effective ways Californians conserved water was through turf removal, switching to drought tolerant plants, and replacing toilet and faucet fixtures. Fast forward one year to 2016, the State Water Board has decided to remove the mandatory water reductions and are letting water agencies control the destiny of their conservation. Even though the State restrictions are lifted,  conservation educational programs are at full speed. It has never been easier to find a landscape/irrigation workshop in a community than now, also science classes in k-12 are emphasizing important hydrological concepts.

When looking at California’s overall water consumption, 40% of the water is consumed by agriculture and about another 40% is used for maintaining California’s native landscape. A common question I get asked is, why is the state demanding that residents conserve if residential consumption is only around 12%? The answer is because the State foresees Californian’s adopting a new culture of water conservation as an easier way of reducing water than reducing it from agriculture, which is tied to complex interests both from businesses and farmers. In the meantime, changing the way we conserve our water is a cultural change that will hopefully pass on to future generations.