The historic drought in California may be long gone but water conservation habits die hard. From 2012 to 2016 California residents were subject to imposed strict water use regulations. Over that time, residents reduced their use of earth’s most valuable resource by about a quarter. An article written by Alastair Bland details the rise and fall of water use during and after the historic drought.
If you can remember back in April after historically one of the wettest winters in California’s history, many mandatory conservation regulations were lifted and the drought declared over. To everyone’s surprise, urban residential water use in places like the San Francisco Bay Area has continued to be down between 20 and 26 percent since 2013. Residents in these urban areas have learned how to use their water more efficiently and continue to conserve long after the drought has ended. During the drought, many residents transitioned to drought-tolerant plants, let their lawns turn brown, and skip the long showers.
However, as to be expected, water conservation in starting to slack off in some areas more than others.
Heather Cooley, the water program director for nonprofit Pacific Institute, says such a post-drought uptick in water use is to be expected.
“We see this looking back at other droughts, like in the late 1980s and early 90s,” she said. “People cut their water use, and then it rebounds a little, though never to pre-drought levels.” (Bland, Water Deeply)
It looks like some people started watering their lawns again and took a few extra minutes in the shower every morning. The moral of this story is that when the importance of water conservation is explained and habits are formed, communities can become more efficient and sustainable. If only it didn’t take a drought to make people recognize the value of earth’s most valuable resource.
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