By Isabell Retamoza, Gaia Intern
Recently, my friend and I were walking around the UC Santa Cruz campus admiring all of the spring splendor of wild flowers and lush greenery. I stopped to admire a lone strawberry patch with about two or three blooms. My friend and I, who are both from Southern California, began discussing how Northern California appears to be so much healthier than where we are from. In Carlsbad whole acres of strawberries are dying because of the heat and lack of water in the soil and air; but here in Santa Cruz it seems like strawberries can grow without worry.
In Santa Cruz there are constant reminders of the drought implying that it is our obligation as California residents to be aware of our water consumption. The water consciousness and awareness of Northern California appears more robust than that of Southern California; and yet Southern California is blatantly more affected by the drought.
It has been reported by the Department of Public Works that “less than one percent of the capacity of the fourteen dams that spread across Los Angeles County is available for release to refill failing aquifers.” For reference, one acre foot of water is enough for two Southern California families to survive on for a year. There are 183,000 acre-feet possible to release and L.A. county has only around 759 acre-feet it is allowed to release in order to replenish aquifers. Aquifers that are for domestic use for L.A. residents, such as, showers, dishwasher, drinking water, etc. [San Gabriel Valley Tribune]
In Southern California, there is an abundance of well kept suburban homes with healthy lawns of green grass and non native flowers and plants, while dry, sick patches of heat affected landscape surround these neighborhoods. It seems that there is a large lack of resident consciousness of the drought in Southern California.
On April 1st, Jerry Brown announced his executive order of strict water restrictions for California residents, with a goal of cutting statewide water usage by twenty five percent.Water reductions are implemented more severely on the areas that are doing the most environmental damage, such as Los Angeles, which will have to reduce water usage by 16 percent. On the other hand, San Francisco, one of the most environmentally conscious cities in Northern California, will only have to cut their water intake by 8 percent.
Hopefully these water restrictions will help Southern California residents take full grasp of the drought situation. The residents that turn their sprinklers on under the noon sun and watch the water evaporate, and those that instead of sweeping their driveways, use garden hoses. Southern California needs to recognize the severity of the drought and look to cities like Santa Cruz and San Francisco as examples for drought consciousness. If Southern California doesn’t change their mentality for the environment, who knows what our future holds.