A drought is a period of prolonged dryness that can lead to a shortage of water, cause extensive damage to crops and have significant impacts on watersheds.
Droughts naturally are a part of California’s Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters. From year to year, however, the weather fluctuates, and the state alternates between very wet and extremely dry water years with a “normal” year making an appearance on occasion.
The most significant California droughts occurred in 1929-1934, 1976-1977, 1987-1992, and 2012-2016. A less severe drought occurred in 2007-2009.
The most recent drought from 2012-2016 was one of most extreme, featuring both record-high temperatures and record-low levels of snowpack and precipitation.
When drought conditions set in, water in storage dwindles, and water conservation becomes vital to stretch the supply.
Now, fearing the next drought, there is a statewide push to make conservation a lifestyle to help preserve the finite resource of water.
A Recap of the 2012-2016 Drought
NID customers clamped down during the drought from 2012 – 2016. NID’s drought webpage from 2015 noted:
Nevada Irrigation District customers have done a tremendous job of saving water. During 2015 District customers saved over 7 billion gallons of water, all of which stayed in our local reservoirs as carryover storage. The District is pleased to report that as of June 20 reservoirs are at 97% of capacity. However, even recent rain and snow cannot erase four years of drought. Now more than ever it is important that we make conservation a California way of life.
Recently the District submitted an analysis of its water supplies to the State Water Resources Control Board. Based on the District’s Water Supply Reliability Certification, NID’s conservation standard has been reduced from 33 percent to 0 percent. While mandated reductions are no longer required, both Governor Brown’s emergency drought declaration and District Rules and Regulations aim to eliminate water waste. As such, to ensure efficient water use, permanent water use restrictions include:
- No outdoor watering in the heat of the day (10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.);
- No outdoor watering during and 48 hours after rain;
- No outdoor watering that causes excess runoff;
- Washing down driveways and sidewalks is prohibited unless for health and safety;
- No washing a motor vehicle with a hose unless the hose is fitted with a shutoff nozzle;
- No use of potable water in a fountain or decorative feature unless the water is recirculated;
- Restaurants can only serve water to customers on request;
- Hotels and Motels must provide guests with the option to not have towels and linens laundered daily;
- Irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians;
- Irrigation with potable water of landscapes outside of newly constructed homes and buildings in a manner inconsistent with regulations or other requirements established by the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development.
For more information on ways to conserve visit http://saveourwater.com/.