(Victor Valley)– After three consecutive years of below average rainfall and snowpack, 2014 is shaping up to be California’s driest year in recorded state history. On January 17, 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions in the upcoming months. To protect Californians’ health and safety from more severe water shortages in the months ahead, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has taken actions to conserve the state’s precious resources. As stated by the DWR, everyone – farmers, people in our cities and towns, as well as fish and other animals will get less water.
Several water systems throughout the state have already experienced water shortages. In preparation for the extended drought, Governor Brown has urged California residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by 20 percent immediately. In efforts to raise public awareness about water conservation, the Governor has initiated the Save Our Water campaign. Visit the Save Our Water website at www.saveourh2o.org to learn simple ways to reduce the amount of water used at home, both indoors and outdoors. The website includes the following tips:
- Use the washing machine for full loads only.
- Run the dishwasher only when full.
- Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. However, when washing dishes by hand, do not let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
- Do not use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
- Collect the water you use while rinsing fruits and vegetables and use it to water house plants.
- Take five minute showers instead of 10 minute showers.
- Turn water off when brushing teeth, shaving, or washing your hair.
- Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
- Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios. If you have to use water to clean up outside, invest in a water broom. A water broom will attach to your hose but uses a combination of air and water pressure to aid cleaning.
- Do not overwater. To help determine how much you should be watering outside, try this easy watering calculator at www.bewaterwise.com/calculator.html.
Not only does the drought pose a threat to our water supply, the ongoing dry conditions put both urban and rural areas of California at high risk for wildfire activity. Visit the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s website for tips on wildfire prevention at www.sbcfire.org.
The Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) is continuing to compile a resource list for both water system operators and the public to provide information on water conservation and how to appropriately respond to the drought. This list can be found on the DEHS Environmental Health Emergencies page at www.sbcounty.gov/dph/dehs. Visit the California Department of Public Health’s Drought Preparedness, Water Conservation and Water Supply Emergency Response page at www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/drinkingwater for additional information about the drought.