Water Woes

By Richard Arthur Lee

Photo Credit: Richard Lee
Photo Credit: Richard Lee

So, we have an unlimited supply of water right? California will never run out of drinking supply, yeah? Actually, those statements are as far away from the truth as possible. Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year announced a State of Emergency regarding the dry conditions, the worst this state has ever seen, even considering the vicious dry spell of the 1970s that had people in a spin. Back then, the economy slowed and farms closed down; people were genuinely scared for the future of agriculture. The rain picked up again eventually, and the weather cooled off. Things appeared to be returning to a relatively normal state. Fast forward to today and we see a much worse situation potentially unfolding. The snow cover in the Sierras is at a record low and the reservoirs that contain the precious snow melt and other sources of water are diminishing rather rapidly. The Pardee and Camanche lakes near Lodi, California are the two primary sources of all drinking water for the entire East Bay region. This includes irrigation water and commercial use water as well. Every day, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) tallies the amount of flow in and out of the reservoirs and totals the amount of water in acres per total feet (Ac-Ft) and from the totals they calculate a percentage of water left in the respective reservoir. For the last year the levels have dropped steadily and are roughly at 30% at Camanche and 80% at Pardee today. While it is unclear just how long the remaining water will last, it is certainly diminishing. What can we do about it? Well for starters we could hope for a stormy winter! We could also try to take shorter showers. Every minute we spend in the shower uses between one and seven gallons of water. Depending on the shower head and flow, that’s approximately forty gallons right there! Our shower water comes from the same source as our drinking water. It takes a different way of thinking about our resources and really valuing what we have to make a real difference. EBMUD has a program going on that gives away free water-conserving items that attach to the sink, shower, hose, and colored tabs that can be administered through the toilet to see leaks. As many as one in three toilets are found to be leaking in some way, like a hole in our collective wallet. As insignificant as we may seem at the individual level, each one of us collectively adds to the total strain of the system at large and together we should raise awareness about this issue and make a dramatic difference by being mindful of our usages. The graphic below is from the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s daily water report, highlighting the present water levels of select reservoirs and the percentage of their total capacity that is still left over. Find out more at: http://www.ebmud.com/watersmart Inquiries may be sent to: richlee.voice@gmail.com

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