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Water conservation: How did Californians do after mandate (Part II)

How is California’s water conservation after last report?   The October number just arrived, so here they are: In September, Californians reduced water usage by 18.3% vs. 2013, in October, 19.5%.  They are quite consistent with the numbers since June, when the water conservation mandate was lifted, in the 17%-22% range.  These numbers indicate Californians continue to put in the effort to conserve water after the mandate, and the result is about 20% reduction for total potable urban water use since June. CA Water Conservation for Last 18 months However, when compared with last year’s numbers for the same month, they all fell short.   In September, it was 30.2% lower; in October, 12.2% lower. Actually,  in every single month since the mandate ended, less water was conserved than last year’s.  In hot months from July to September, it was as much as about 1/3 less.  October’s showing actually is the best, at 12% lower.  The mandate does seem to make a difference in the months so far.   CA Water Conservation - with and without mandate

CA Drought Situation

Thanks to some heavy rains in the last 2 months, the drought situation in the state has been relieved to a certain degree.  As of Dec 2o, 59% of California is in “severe drought”, down from 90% at the same time last year.  This is a big improvement, but 60% of the state is still in severe drought.  We also don’t know how the rest of water year will play out.  The drought is not considered over, and we still need to conserve water. CA Drought Comparison 2015 and 2016

California Water Conservation Mandate

In April 2015, facing California’s historical 4 year drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order making it mandatory that statewide urban water use be reduced by 25% compared with 2013 levels starting June 2015. Since the mandate started, Californians stepped up their conservation efforts, and statewide water conservation immediately jumped from 13.7% in April, to 29.0% in May. Overall,  the statewide water savings for the twelve months from June 2015 to May 2016 was 24.5 percent, when the mandate was effective.

New Water Conservation Regulation – No Statewide Mandate

In May 2016, with impressive water saving achievements for a whole year, and a close-to-normal winter rainfall, emergency water conservation regulations was revised. Instead of a statewide mandate, urban water agencies have the ability to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability – their projected shortfall in the event of three more dry years.  In the months after this approach was implemented, as the numbers above indicate, less water was conserved than when the mandate was in place.

Continue with Water Conservation

With climate change and population increase, water resource will just keep getting scarcer, not more.  It is projected that the Sierra snowpack can drop by half by the end of the century if greenhouse emissions continue at current speed, which can be disastrous for the state’s water supply.   As of right now, 60% of the state is still in severe drought. It is clear we all need to use water more efficiently, and continue to conserve water. Limit outdoor watering, as about half of water consumed by Californians is used outdoors.  Replace the lawn with a water efficient garden – Calculate how much water you can save here. A water efficient garden will not only save water, but be beautiful as well. They can be full of California native charm, or be a floral dream for little princesses.  Whichever design you choose, the water efficient garden can help us conserve water, and deal with water shortage now and in the future. Water Efficient Garden "Floral Dream"    

From Brown to Floral Dream

“I want to get rid of the brown lawn, like yesterday!  and I want a garden of flowers!  ” declared Sheena (not the real name), the owner of the house and a mom of young girls. lawn2watereffigarden   The brown lawn had been an eye sore to Sheena for a long time.  Like so many other Californians, she stopped watering the lawn when the state implemented the drought Emergency Regulation.  The lawn turned brown and did not look good.  Sheena wanted to do something about it, but had no clue where to start.  When she was told about the Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, she could not wait to get onboard. Designing the Garden Sheena wanted a garden of flowers boasting of strong, festival colors, like red, purple, and orange.  “It’s a garden for my princesses!”  She also likes different types of grasses as nice decorations. Plants of Beautiful Flowers It is a blessing that many drought tolerant plants do have very beautiful flowers.  It was quite easy to pick the plants that Sheena wanted from a big collection. Mexican Bush Sage:  With its big volume of bright purple blossom (with some white blended in), it is the kind of plants that you will notice right away.   Drought tolerant once established, it blooms for a long time from summer to late fall, providing incessant color and beauty to your garden. img_0459 Lion’s Tail: brings a festival feel. lions-tail-2 New Zealand Flax: img_0464 Red Hot Poker red-hot-poker-2 Erigeron:  Tough, drought tolerant, pretty blossom. erigeron Mulch Mulch is a must for any water efficient garden.   After all the plants are planted, a layer of mulch is placed on the surface to 1) keep the soil moist and 2)reduce evaporation.  Mulch can reduce evaporation by as much as 75%, so is a very important element for any garden that aims to conserve water. Organic mulch such as chipped bark is a good choice.  In addition to keeping the water in soil, they can add to the soil’s richness once composed.  This is critical for the health of the soil and the growth of the plants. There are different colors of mulch, and the choice was easy for Sheena. The garden is already filled with flowers of all pretty colors, with the mulch, it is further enhanced to this other level of prettiness and excitement. Rain Sensor A rain sensor and automatic controller were also installed with the garden. When it rains, the sensor can send the signal to the controller, which will delay the watering scheduled, saving irrigation water for the garden.  Rain sensor is another great way to make a garden water efficient. img_0445 The project was finished within a week, and the total cost was less than $3000.  The rebate made it substantially lower. Sheena was very happy.  “My princesses like the garden!”  Sheena is glad now the brown lawn is gone, and she and her princesses have this big beautiful view to enjoy everyday.  In addition, “It saves me a lot of money. We use much less water now, and no longer need to hire hands for maintenance.”   waterefficientgarden1