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  • Lingering Drought (and Not Just in California)

    Step aside, California; you’re not the only one dealing with drought in this country.

    The entire state of Alabama is under some sort of drought condition, ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. The last time the whole of Alabama faced drought conditions was back in 2011.

    nj-drought-monitor-comparison Lingering DroughtBut it’s not just Alabama. New Jersey is also drying up, and dry weather looks to be on the docket for a while yet. While not as bad as Alabama or California (can anywhere be as bad as California?), severe drought is creeping in along the Northeast. Lack of rain and snow in 2016 is a large factor in these drought conditions.

    While Georgia isn’t completely parched, it is quite dry in many areas. In fact, at the beginning of the 2016 calendar year, there wasn’t even a trace of moderate drought. Now there’s plenty of moderate, severe, extreme, and even exceptional drought conditions.

    But wait! There’s more! Mississippi is also suffering. A handful of counties are afflicted with extreme drought, while the majority is facing moderate to severe drought. About a third of the state is “just” abnormally dry. Only two counties are unaffected by drought conditions. In all, Georgia’s farmers are really starting to feel it.

    Of course, California isn’t doing so great, either.

    As a nation, there are a lot of parched states. IN fact, there are only a select few that don’t have any drought conditions at all. That being said, there are still plenty of areas that are receiving plenty of water, despite their state having some form of dryness. So all is not lost!

    us-drought-monitor-as-of-october-11-2016 Lingering DroughtHowever, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that certain areas are more affected than others. Take a look at the map here and see if you live in one of those areas. If you do, now is the perfect time to start preparing your water storage. Invest in a water barrel (or two) and fill them before you’re on a water restriction. This is one way to ensure you have enough water before any restrictions are put into place. And this water is not just for drinking, but washing and cleaning as well.

    Drought can happen in any state, and if you are fortunate to not be affected by it at this time, take precautions now so that when the drought does come to your neighborhood, you’ll be ready.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Lingering Drought

  • Is the California Drought Really Making Headway?

    California is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful parks, and blistering drought.

    California Drought Monitor Aug 4, 2015But things have been much worse for California’s drought. Just last year, the majority of the state was either in exceptional or extreme drought (as seen here as the two shades of red). There was only a small sliver down in the southeast of the state that was just abnormally dry (yellow). The rest of the state was in at least some form of drought, much of it severe or worse. Things certainly were bad back then. But has it improved, or has it become even worse? Let's look at the current drought monitor.

    California Drought Monitor Aug 2, 2016As of August 4, 2016, there’s a lot more yellow, which is a good sign. Yellow means it’s just abnormally dry, not technically in drought conditions. A fair portion of the reds have turned orange or beige, signaling the extreme and exceptional drought conditions are dwindling.

    Yes, there is still quite a bit of exceptional drought in California, but by the looks of things, it is slowly dispersing. That being said, it’s nothing to celebrate. At least, not yet.

    Since Californians have done an excellent job at conserving water – they cut back water usage by 27.5% in June 2015 as compared with the 2013 baseline – many municipalities are lifting water restrictions. An article in the East Bay Times showed concern from water program director at the Pacific Institute, Heather Cooley. She said that today’s number of saved water is strong. However, Cooley has other concerns.

    “I’m concerned about the next several months and years,” she said. “The water we save now is water we can use later if we don’t get rains next winter.” She warned that caution should be exercised.

    As the drought monitor from August 2, 2016 suggests, there is still a fair amount of drought afflicting the Golden State, and there will undoubtedly still be quite some time yet before the drought is gone.

    Whether lifting much of the water restrictions in California is a good idea or not remains to be seen. However, it does look like there is still room for precautions. Just because the disaster is becoming less severe doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to stop being cautious – and this goes for all disasters. Just because the threat is subsiding doesn’t mean the threat is gone entirely.

    But, perhaps local officials know better. Whatever their source of knowledge, you can still do your part to save water and ultimately be prepared.


    Drought  monitor

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  • Learning to Conserve Water Now Helps Prepare You For Drought

    In 1979’s The Muppet Movie, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew showed off one of the most brilliant water-saving devices ever devised: a “musical rotating rain barrel.” Think of it: simultaneous conservation and outdoor entertainment.

    The western ghost town where he’d set up shop was a good place for it. Of the ten states with the highest per capita water use, nine are in the west. The main reason: landscape irrigation. In western states, which see less rainfall, residential water use averages almost 130 gallons per person per day. In the rest of the United States, residential water use averages about 89 gallons per person per day.

    So, in the west, the easiest way to conserve water is to water less. Lawns only need about a half inch of water per week and less in the autumn and winter. If water’s running down the gutter, you’re using too much. Ready.gov has more tips for landscape watering, including planting drought-tolerant plants and grouping plants together based on how much water they use.


    Conserve Water - via American Water Works Association Research Foundation


    A dripping tap showing water being wasted - conserve water

    The next-easiest way to reduce water use is to repair leaks.

    “One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year,” ready.gov said.

    Often, the repair is as easy as replacing a washer in the faucet. Also check plumbing for leaks and have a plumber repair them.

    The next step to reduce water use is to monitor indoor water use. The average family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About 70 percent is used indoors.

    The largest indoor uses are flushing the toilet and bathing, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Most new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush. Older models use about 4 gallons. Either model uses more if it leaks. If you hear water running between flushes, check for a leak. It may be as simple as a loose-fitting stopper in the tank, a truly easy fix. My husband, who is not at all mechanically inclined, recently replaced the stopper in our toilet. It took him about 20 minutes and cost less than $12.

    Faucet - conserve waterLook closely on a faucet or shower head. It will say a number, like 1.0 gpm or 1.5 gpm. That’s the maximum flow – 1 gallon per minute, for example.

    Old show heads allow flow of up to 5 gallons of water per minute. Water-saving shower heads use about 2 gallons per minute, according to the USGS. To save water, replace old shower heads with water-saving ones and take a shorter shower. Also, a full tub of water averages about 36 gallons of water, so take a shower instead of a bath.

    If you have a dishwasher, use it. New dishwashers use 6 gallons of water per cycle, while old ones use 16 gallons. But hand washing dishes uses between 8 and 27 gallons of water, according to the USGS. Either way, scrape food off dishes into the trash. Kitchen sink disposals use a lot of water to run correctly.

    Run full clothes washer loads. Even new, efficient washers use 25 gallons per load. An older washer might use 40 gallons per load.

    The United Nations estimates that in 15 years, at the current rate of usage, the world’s fresh water supply could be 40 percent less than what people need. Parts of the U.S., especially in the west, are in drought now. Others, like Flint, Mich., must deal with human-caused water shortages. The best way to prepare for water shortages is to conserve water beforehand, said ready.gov.

    “If we plan for drought, then we can enjoy the benefits of normal or rainy years and not get caught unprepared in dry years,” the site said.


    Drought conserve water

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