Low flush toilets are a definite advantage. If you don’t already know what a low flush toilet is, you need to find out because a drought emergency has been declared for Santa Cruz County. Water rationing is now in effect for the City of Santa Cruz, and single-family dwellings are limited to 249 gallons per household per day; larger households are asked to apply for a higher allotment. The first 10% of water use over the ration limit will cost $25 per ccf (ccf stands for 100 cubic feet, 1 ccf = 784 gallons of water, which is one billing unit). More than 10% over the allotment will cost $50 per ccf. In the San Lorenzo Valley water district, stage two water restriction has been put in place which entails no watering or irrigating between 10AM-5PM, no outdoor watering on Monday, and outdoor irrigation is permitted only three days a week. So if you love to garden this is bad news. The violation penalties for breaking these rules include a $100 fine for the second offense, a $250 fine for the third offense, a $500 fine for the fourth offense, and fifth time offenders will have the water at their house disconnected. I don’t think it is necessary to tell you that you should avoid offending for a fifth time. Not having access to running water is not much fun.
Currently California, not just Santa Cruz, is immersed in a severe drought that is affecting individuals, cities, and farmers. 2013 was the driest year on record and 2014 has brought no relief. A high-pressure ridge over the Pacific Ocean has prevented rain from forming over the West Coast causing drought conditions. According to The Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service the drought will persist or intensify. What this means for us is an extended period that water rationing will be required and the effects of this problem are beginning to become obvious.
Reservoir levels are at all time lows, snow is scarce, and some communities have imposed restrictions on water usage. Already, in Santa Cruz restaurants can no longer serve drinking water unless diners specifically ask for it and in Marin County residents have been asked not to clean their cars or to do so in an eco-friendly car wash (Forbes). There is no solution to the drought (except rain), but there are several things people can do to conserve water.
The Weather Channel suggests repairing all dripping faucets, retrofitting all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors, replacing showerheads with an ultra-low flow version, placing a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants, taking reduced showers, avoiding baths, and avoiding letting the water run while brushing your teeth or washing your face.
Senior Randie Beasely is taking the drought seriously, and has decided that 15-minute showers are not worth the wasted water (even though Randie loves showers). As Randie says “I’m very concerned about this drought because it’s going to have a long term impact on the environment. It frustrates me when I see huge green lawns and freshly washed cars, so much water is being wasted! Also everyone should shorten their showers because my fish needs his water.” To everyone out there, Randie’s fish is named The King and he deserves the right to life, so take short showers! Randie’s fish is not the only one who is in trouble if we fail to conserve water; in the future we might not have access to running water and we will have to drink gross bottled water that tastes like plastic. That is not a problem I want to face.
– Katrina Luque