California has always been a study in never having enough water. Southern California even more so. With a population of more than 38 million Californians living on the edge of disaster, now is the time for residents to reconsider their water usage and their commitment to environmental sustainability. To delay any longer is reckless.
On June 4, 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of drought after the driest spring in California’s recorded history. Few noticed. Since that uneventful day, water districts have issued warnings calling for Southern California residents and businesses to do as little as possible in response to dwindling water availability.
When it comes to conserving water, doing a little is never enough.
Voluntary water conversation measures do help. Asking people to use less water is smart advice considering that there are more and more Californians every year, trying to get by with less and less water. Reducing individual water consumption can and should happen on numerous levels. Learning respect and restraint is the first step. Respecting finite resources while practicing restraint in all aspects of our lives is the only path to abundance.
Ecological ethics suggests lawns are a luxury Southern California can no longer afford. Lush landscapes, fountains and swimming pools also need to be reconsidered, as the drought deepens and human populations continue to increase.
Washing down patios, sidewalks and driveways wastes water and should be discouraged. Outdoor showers and greywater conversions should be encouraged as sensible ways to conserve water while irrigating residential landscaping and home gardens. Drought-resistant native landscaping utilizing indigenous species should also be encouraged and promoted by municipalities wishing to conserve water and save money in the process.
Environmental restoration is another way to promote water conservation.
I’m of the David Brower school of thought. Brower, one of the 20th century’s leading environmentalists, was known as the Arch Druid. Brower was the first executive director of the Sierra Club, and founder of the Sierra Club Foundation, the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies, Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and the Earth Island Institute.
Browers’ ecological CPR theory links conservation, preservation and restoration to environmental sustainability.
As a native Californian, I understand water conservation to be key to maintaining any semblance of the quality of life Californians have come to expect — and take for granted. We the people of Southern California live in a semi-arid desert, and it’s time we started behaving like it.
The best way to avoid the regulations and restrictions of a stage 3 drought is to make small sacrifices by practicing restraint when it comes to water use, while there is still water to conserve. California, long the vanguard in regard to environmental stewardship, is up for the challenge of reducing frivolous water usage for the common good.
Having overwatered the California dream with imported resources, California’s future now depends on learning to live with less.
To do otherwise will spell disaster.
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