WEWAC is dedicated to promoting the importance of water year round, but we couldn’t let this month pass without recognizing May as Water Awareness Month. There’s no better time than now to talk about making conservation
a way of life!
We’ve all read the recent headlines – the multi-year drought has ended! So, do we still need to conserve? Are water use restrictions still in place? Let’s take a look at a couple of myths and provide some facts to help set the record straight.
Rains have rejuvenated drought-ridden California and we can ease up on water use restrictions.
Truth of the matter is that drought conditions can return any time, therefore we must continue to use water wisely. Yes, the snowpack is plentiful, but using water more efficiently will make the current supply last longer – even through drier years. California can have several consecutive wet years, but we can have several dry years in a row, too. Our most recent drought lasted nearly six years!
The Sierra snowpack is way above normal, which means we’re banking enough water to get us through another drought should one occur soon.
While it is true that the Sierra snowpack was recorded at more than 160% above its average on April 1st (the fourth highest on record), there are too many variables to predict its impacts on a future drought. The snowpack does act as a natural reservoir, melting as the weather warms up and providing water through the drier summer months. However, it takes a long time to replenish the groundwater supply. The California Department of Water Resources estimates almost 60% of the state’s water supply relied on groundwater during recent drought conditions. So although this record snowpack will help replenish our aquifers, it can take many years to recover from groundwater depletion.
This has been the wettest winter on record since the drought.
Actually, we had a wetter winter two years ago. It may have seemed like a record rainy season, but the total precipitation fell below that measured in 2016-2017. The bulk of this winter’s rain arrived in February and March, giving many the impression of a super wet winter with heavy rainfall. Keep in mind it took several incredibly rainy seasons to scale back drought conditions. Becoming more water efficient is the best way to brace ourselves for future dry years.