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