State expands drought emergency to Santa Clara, San Mateo counties

Announcement follows weeks of rising concern from water resources agencies

Boats on the Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos on July 7, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

News

State expands drought emergency to Santa Clara, San Mateo counties

Announcement follows weeks of rising concern from water resources agencies

Boats on the Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos on July 7, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

As the drought throughout California deepens, the state announced on Thursday that it is extending its April drought emergency to include additional counties, including San Mateo and Santa Clara, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced. He called for a voluntary 15% reduction in residential and commercial water use.

The announcement follows weeks of rising concern among water resources agencies. Members of local and state water resources agencies delivered a "scared straight" message regarding Santa Clara and San Mateo counties' future water supplies on July 1, pointing to the deepening drought and predictions of more challenging months ahead.

Armed with U.S. Drought Monitor maps showing nearly the entire state in a blaze of red, and bar graphs of dwindling reservoir water levels, representatives said the time for the public to conserve the precious supply is now.

The Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), Valley Water, the California Department of Water Resources and the California Water Service discussed the worsening drought at a July 1 community meeting, which was sponsored by state Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park.

The drought has already extended into its second year, and this year is predicted to become one of the driest in terms of water runoff in the state's historical record. Last year's water year — from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 3, 2020 — ranked as the 13th driest in statewide precipitation and the fifth driest in statewide water runoff. Much of the low precipitation occurred in the northern half of the state, which supplies the majority of the state's water supply.

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The paucity extended into the 2021 precipitation year, which ended June 28. Nearly the entire state has received only about half of average annual precipitation, said Jeanine Jones, California Department of Water Resources interstate resources manager. The cumulative effect has plunged nearly the entire state into an extreme drought, according to data from the Western Regional Climate Center.

The water storage system that supplies most municipalities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is at 72.9% of its maximum capacity. Normally, the total storage averages 91% of this time of year, Nicole Sandkulla, CEO and general manager of BAWSCA, said on Wednesday during a phone interview.

Although the system's water bank, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is currently at 99.1% of its maximum storage capacity, looks can be deceiving.

"Clearly, it's down," Sandkulla said of the total system, adding that people need to start conserving water voluntarily.

More concerning is the amount of precipitation feeding the water system. The years 2020-2021 were the second lowest on record since Hetch Hetchy was completed in the 1930s. The lowest was the 1976-1977 drought, Sandkulla said.

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"It's very close; 1976-77 had 39.14 inches of precipitation; 2020-21 had 39.28 inches," she said.

Jones noted that statewide overall reservoir levels have been dropping and are about 64% of average. Individual reservoirs such as those in the large federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project, which serve parts of Santa Clara County, have dropped even lower. San Luis Reservoir, for example, is at 33% of capacity or 54% of its historical average, she said.

A 'canary in a coal mine'?

A dry creek bed connecting to the Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos on July 7, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Closer to home, Santa Clara Valley Water District, also known as Valley Water, is the poster child for how quickly a water system can become vulnerable to drought.

Water storage rates in Santa Clara County's 10 reservoirs are currently 16% in Guadalupe and Stevens Creek; Lexington, Chesbro, Coyote and Uvas are in the 20%-25% range; and Calero and Almaden at 45% and 54%, respectively. Only Vasona is at near capacity at 94%, according to the Valley Water Surface Water data portal.

Anderson Reservoir, the district's largest, is at 4% capacity; however, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the district to drain the reservoir over seismic concerns due to its age. Located near Morgan Hill, Anderson is Valley Water's largest reservoir and stores half of the water in its system. The reservoir will stay empty for the next decade, depriving the county of that critical water source until a rebuild of its dam can be completed, Valley Water Board Vice Chair Gary Kremen said.

Coyote Reservoir, the district's second-largest, is also currently limited in its current surface water storage due to limits imposed by the California Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams, according to a staff memo to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Valley Water, which supplies some water to the city of Mountain View, gets about 30% of its supply from its reservoirs and the groundwater aquifer. Another 50% is imported (40% through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 10% from Hetch Hetchy); 5% is from wastewater treatment and advanced purification and 15% comes through residential and commercial/agricultural conservation, according to the district.

Valley Water's ability to get water imported from the California State Water Project, which manages 17 reservoirs statewide, and the federal Central Valley Project, which manages 20 dams and reservoirs, is also taking a hit. The State Water Project is now providing just 5% of the water, and the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the Central Valley Project, announced on May 26 that it is cutting the water to urban areas from 55% to 25% and for agricultural uses to 0%.

In response, on June 9 Valley Water instituted a 15% mandatory reduction in water use among its customers compared to 2019 usage due to the state and federal cutbacks, dwindling Sierra snowpack and the Anderson Reservoir shutdown.

"Increased conservation is also necessary to protect local water supplies and guard against groundwater overdraft, subsidence and dry domestic wells, especially if the drought extends into next year," Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said in a June 9 statement.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors ratified the emergency order on June 22 and stated in a press release, "Reservoirs are so low, the water level is inadequate for agriculture, wildlife and urban needs." The order applies to unincorporated parts of the county and calls for customers to voluntarily use 15% less water as compared to their 2019 water usage. The order stays in effect until Aug. 21.

Given the statewide drought, Valley Water is also finding it difficult to find much water for sale. The water district is a member of a water-banking exchange through the Semitropic Groundwater Banking Program in Kern County, which is supposed to help manage variability in Valley Water's supplies from the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. Semitropic is a member district of the Kern County Water Agency, the second largest State Water Project contractor, according to Valley Water's website. Yet, Valley Water is having trouble accessing its share, Kremen said.

The district has banked about 425,000 acre-feet of water in Semitropic over a 20-year period and has withdrawn about 190,000 acre-feet during dry years, but it must retrieve the banked water by exchange with other State Water Project water being pumped at Banks Pumping Plant in Tracy.

"We can't get it back because there's no one to trade with," Kremen said.

Purchasing water — if a supply can be found — is also expensive, he said. Between Dec. 7, 2020, and July 7, 2021, the price per acre-foot has jumped from $483.53 to $841.21, an 84% increase, according to the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index Futures (NQH2O). The prices steeply rose from just over $200 per acre-foot in March 2020, according to the data. Even if the district wants to buy water, it can't; it doesn't have a way to get it delivered into the county, he said.

The district also can't bet on pulling up groundwater from the aquifer. The California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act restricts how much water can be pumped out of the ground to protect the groundwater basin. Pulling out too much water also causes land to sink and compacts the ground and gravel layers that would normally store the water. The district has no emergency underground sources, Kremen said.

"We're not going to conserve our way out of this problem," Kremen said.

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Dirt and dried plants on the shore of Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos on July 7, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The state legislature on June 28 approved a $3 billion water resilience drought package to expand and protect water supplies across the state, Berman noted at the July 1 meeting.

But Tom Francis, BAWSCA's water resources manager, said that the projects that could help bolster the water capacity for the future could take more than 10 years to move forward. A project at Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County would add treated but potable wastewater to the Crystal Springs supply, which comes from Hetch Hetchy, he said.

San Mateo County's three reservoirs, Upper and Lower Crystal Springs and San Andreas Lake, provide emergency backup and supply for northern San Mateo County and the city and county of San Francisco. Sandkulla said that both are being kept full to provide emergency use in the event of another wildfire such as last year's CZU Lightning Complex fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

'We're not going to conserve our way out of this problem.'

-Gary Kreman, vice chair, Valley Water board of directors

For now, BAWSCA 's 26 member agencies, which include East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Stanford University, Purissima Hills Water District, which supplies water to Los Altos Hills, and California Water Service's Bear Gulch District, which covers parts of Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside, aren't under a mandate to conserve water, but that could change this fall if there's no precipitation when the rains should begin, Sandkulla said.

In the meantime, BAWSCA and Valley Water are offering incentives, tips and rebates to help people save water so the area can bank enough water if the drought continues into next year, and hopefully, to create a water-saving culture. BAWSCA is offering rebates through programs such as Lawn Be Gone, which offers residents up to a $4-per-square-foot rebate to replace their lawns with drought-tolerant native plants, up to $300 for planting a "rain garden" of native plants with deep root systems, and a rain barrel rebate.

Valley Water is offering customers up to $400 to install a greywater laundry-to-landscape system. On July 1, it kicked off a landscaping rebate increase to $3,000 for residential sites and up to $50,000 for multi-family properties of five or more units.

To learn more about the water-saving tips and rebates for water-wise landscaping, visit bawsca.org and valleywater.org.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

State expands drought emergency to Santa Clara, San Mateo counties

Announcement follows weeks of rising concern from water resources agencies

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 6:59 am

As the drought throughout California deepens, the state announced on Thursday that it is extending its April drought emergency to include additional counties, including San Mateo and Santa Clara, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced. He called for a voluntary 15% reduction in residential and commercial water use.

The announcement follows weeks of rising concern among water resources agencies. Members of local and state water resources agencies delivered a "scared straight" message regarding Santa Clara and San Mateo counties' future water supplies on July 1, pointing to the deepening drought and predictions of more challenging months ahead.

Armed with U.S. Drought Monitor maps showing nearly the entire state in a blaze of red, and bar graphs of dwindling reservoir water levels, representatives said the time for the public to conserve the precious supply is now.

The Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), Valley Water, the California Department of Water Resources and the California Water Service discussed the worsening drought at a July 1 community meeting, which was sponsored by state Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park.

The drought has already extended into its second year, and this year is predicted to become one of the driest in terms of water runoff in the state's historical record. Last year's water year — from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 3, 2020 — ranked as the 13th driest in statewide precipitation and the fifth driest in statewide water runoff. Much of the low precipitation occurred in the northern half of the state, which supplies the majority of the state's water supply.

The paucity extended into the 2021 precipitation year, which ended June 28. Nearly the entire state has received only about half of average annual precipitation, said Jeanine Jones, California Department of Water Resources interstate resources manager. The cumulative effect has plunged nearly the entire state into an extreme drought, according to data from the Western Regional Climate Center.

The water storage system that supplies most municipalities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is at 72.9% of its maximum capacity. Normally, the total storage averages 91% of this time of year, Nicole Sandkulla, CEO and general manager of BAWSCA, said on Wednesday during a phone interview.

Although the system's water bank, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is currently at 99.1% of its maximum storage capacity, looks can be deceiving.

"Clearly, it's down," Sandkulla said of the total system, adding that people need to start conserving water voluntarily.

More concerning is the amount of precipitation feeding the water system. The years 2020-2021 were the second lowest on record since Hetch Hetchy was completed in the 1930s. The lowest was the 1976-1977 drought, Sandkulla said.

"It's very close; 1976-77 had 39.14 inches of precipitation; 2020-21 had 39.28 inches," she said.

Jones noted that statewide overall reservoir levels have been dropping and are about 64% of average. Individual reservoirs such as those in the large federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project, which serve parts of Santa Clara County, have dropped even lower. San Luis Reservoir, for example, is at 33% of capacity or 54% of its historical average, she said.

Closer to home, Santa Clara Valley Water District, also known as Valley Water, is the poster child for how quickly a water system can become vulnerable to drought.

Water storage rates in Santa Clara County's 10 reservoirs are currently 16% in Guadalupe and Stevens Creek; Lexington, Chesbro, Coyote and Uvas are in the 20%-25% range; and Calero and Almaden at 45% and 54%, respectively. Only Vasona is at near capacity at 94%, according to the Valley Water Surface Water data portal.

Anderson Reservoir, the district's largest, is at 4% capacity; however, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the district to drain the reservoir over seismic concerns due to its age. Located near Morgan Hill, Anderson is Valley Water's largest reservoir and stores half of the water in its system. The reservoir will stay empty for the next decade, depriving the county of that critical water source until a rebuild of its dam can be completed, Valley Water Board Vice Chair Gary Kremen said.

Coyote Reservoir, the district's second-largest, is also currently limited in its current surface water storage due to limits imposed by the California Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams, according to a staff memo to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Valley Water, which supplies some water to the city of Mountain View, gets about 30% of its supply from its reservoirs and the groundwater aquifer. Another 50% is imported (40% through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 10% from Hetch Hetchy); 5% is from wastewater treatment and advanced purification and 15% comes through residential and commercial/agricultural conservation, according to the district.

Valley Water's ability to get water imported from the California State Water Project, which manages 17 reservoirs statewide, and the federal Central Valley Project, which manages 20 dams and reservoirs, is also taking a hit. The State Water Project is now providing just 5% of the water, and the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the Central Valley Project, announced on May 26 that it is cutting the water to urban areas from 55% to 25% and for agricultural uses to 0%.

In response, on June 9 Valley Water instituted a 15% mandatory reduction in water use among its customers compared to 2019 usage due to the state and federal cutbacks, dwindling Sierra snowpack and the Anderson Reservoir shutdown.

"Increased conservation is also necessary to protect local water supplies and guard against groundwater overdraft, subsidence and dry domestic wells, especially if the drought extends into next year," Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said in a June 9 statement.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors ratified the emergency order on June 22 and stated in a press release, "Reservoirs are so low, the water level is inadequate for agriculture, wildlife and urban needs." The order applies to unincorporated parts of the county and calls for customers to voluntarily use 15% less water as compared to their 2019 water usage. The order stays in effect until Aug. 21.

Given the statewide drought, Valley Water is also finding it difficult to find much water for sale. The water district is a member of a water-banking exchange through the Semitropic Groundwater Banking Program in Kern County, which is supposed to help manage variability in Valley Water's supplies from the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. Semitropic is a member district of the Kern County Water Agency, the second largest State Water Project contractor, according to Valley Water's website. Yet, Valley Water is having trouble accessing its share, Kremen said.

The district has banked about 425,000 acre-feet of water in Semitropic over a 20-year period and has withdrawn about 190,000 acre-feet during dry years, but it must retrieve the banked water by exchange with other State Water Project water being pumped at Banks Pumping Plant in Tracy.

"We can't get it back because there's no one to trade with," Kremen said.

Purchasing water — if a supply can be found — is also expensive, he said. Between Dec. 7, 2020, and July 7, 2021, the price per acre-foot has jumped from $483.53 to $841.21, an 84% increase, according to the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index Futures (NQH2O). The prices steeply rose from just over $200 per acre-foot in March 2020, according to the data. Even if the district wants to buy water, it can't; it doesn't have a way to get it delivered into the county, he said.

The district also can't bet on pulling up groundwater from the aquifer. The California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act restricts how much water can be pumped out of the ground to protect the groundwater basin. Pulling out too much water also causes land to sink and compacts the ground and gravel layers that would normally store the water. The district has no emergency underground sources, Kremen said.

"We're not going to conserve our way out of this problem," Kremen said.

The state legislature on June 28 approved a $3 billion water resilience drought package to expand and protect water supplies across the state, Berman noted at the July 1 meeting.

But Tom Francis, BAWSCA's water resources manager, said that the projects that could help bolster the water capacity for the future could take more than 10 years to move forward. A project at Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County would add treated but potable wastewater to the Crystal Springs supply, which comes from Hetch Hetchy, he said.

San Mateo County's three reservoirs, Upper and Lower Crystal Springs and San Andreas Lake, provide emergency backup and supply for northern San Mateo County and the city and county of San Francisco. Sandkulla said that both are being kept full to provide emergency use in the event of another wildfire such as last year's CZU Lightning Complex fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

For now, BAWSCA 's 26 member agencies, which include East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Stanford University, Purissima Hills Water District, which supplies water to Los Altos Hills, and California Water Service's Bear Gulch District, which covers parts of Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside, aren't under a mandate to conserve water, but that could change this fall if there's no precipitation when the rains should begin, Sandkulla said.

In the meantime, BAWSCA and Valley Water are offering incentives, tips and rebates to help people save water so the area can bank enough water if the drought continues into next year, and hopefully, to create a water-saving culture. BAWSCA is offering rebates through programs such as Lawn Be Gone, which offers residents up to a $4-per-square-foot rebate to replace their lawns with drought-tolerant native plants, up to $300 for planting a "rain garden" of native plants with deep root systems, and a rain barrel rebate.

Valley Water is offering customers up to $400 to install a greywater laundry-to-landscape system. On July 1, it kicked off a landscaping rebate increase to $3,000 for residential sites and up to $50,000 for multi-family properties of five or more units.

To learn more about the water-saving tips and rebates for water-wise landscaping, visit bawsca.org and valleywater.org.

Comments

Petra Karenter
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 9, 2021 at 2:16 pm
Petra Karenter, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Just another reason to RECALL NEWSOM. We have a water reservoir system built for 20 million people and a population twice that. Droughts are a regular feature in California. We should be doing a significantly better job of managing and retaining our water. Lack of leadership on Newsom’s part.


Marion Harvey
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2021 at 2:50 pm
Marion Harvey, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2021 at 2:50 pm

We can't be blaming Gavin Newsom for everything that's gone wrong in California.


Cyrus Taylor
Registered user
Ventura
on Jul 9, 2021 at 3:44 pm
Cyrus Taylor, Ventura
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2021 at 3:44 pm
JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jul 9, 2021 at 4:00 pm
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Wow. This is a serious problem. Global warming is real, and our state is being badly affected by it. Meanwhile, Assembly member Marc Berman said recently during his town hall on the drought that we are doing okay with water. This was a misreading of the situation. While the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is currently not in trouble, many reservoirs in our area are between 25-45% of capacity. Mr. Berman also apparently supports Senate Bill 9, which allows single family homes to be turned into 4 homes on the same lot. He wants denser residential development since he thinks that will allow for fewer water-thirsty lawns and since he believes that these 4-unit lots will create affordable housing. With the high cost of land in Palo Alto, I don't believe that these new developments will be affordable to most people. Of course, more people on one lot will probably use more water than a single family uses. I know this Senate Bill 9 topic is not mentioned in the article, but our current serious drought situation does tie into Senate Bill 9. I hope we all work hard to conserve water and also take a close look at Senate Bill 9 to see how dense residential development on single family lots will not help our drought situation. Thank you.


Local
Registered user
Stanford
on Jul 11, 2021 at 7:45 am
Local, Stanford
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2021 at 7:45 am

Blame Donald Trump and his cognitively challenged voters. Trump is still claiming this is not climate change and the earth is cooling down. We wasted four years under him doing nothing and this is now costing up.


Preston Layne
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2021 at 7:53 am
Preston Layne, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2021 at 7:53 am

- Blame Donald Trump and his cognitively challenged voters.

Donald Trump and his supporters can and should be held accountable for a number of improprieties but you cannot blame them for global warming.

When it comes to the proliferation of unchecked industrially discharged CO2 along with the origins of the coronavirus, all fingers point to the PRC.


Loretta
Registered user
another community
on Jul 11, 2021 at 10:13 am
Loretta, another community
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2021 at 10:13 am

We are trying to conserve water by taking fewer showers per week (2) and reducing our washloads by only laundering most clothing (including towels and bed linens) after three weeks of consecutive use.

By turning one's underwear inside out and wearing it a second day you can also double their usage while using less water for unecessary laundering.

The cars have remained unwashed for most of a year (going on two) and washing our kitchen utensils is kept to an absolute minimum.

We simply wipe-clean our cast iron skillet and dutch ovens and use wooden plates and spoons which can be easily cleansed with sand and a damp rag.

Much of our water conservation measures are being taken because we are opting to use the water to irrigate of an ongoing cash crop which is our primary source of income.


Anneke
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 12, 2021 at 12:52 pm
Anneke, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2021 at 12:52 pm

We have a long coast line, and we need to start building desalination plants, and I believe we recently received some funding to start that project.

To Loretta: I cannot help myself, but I have to tell you a joke from WWII. Soldiers from the US, UK and Germany were all told by their leadership to slow down their changes of underwear:

1. US leadership told the soldiers to change to once a week.
2. British leadership informed their soldiers to change to once a month
3. And the German leadership instructed their soldiers to change their underwear with each other.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2021 at 1:15 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2021 at 1:15 pm

We just drove home from vacation in Oregon where we expeperienced the horrifying heat dome, a weather event that is supposed to be a once-in-a-thousand-years phenomenon. It was terrible to watch the upper stories of trees scorch over three days. Green leaves turned yellow and red, then dark and crusty, falling like ash to the ground. Crops withered. It was awful to be outside in 113 degree heat. Walking out the door felt like walking into a blast furnace.

We drove home on Sunday. We were shocked to see Lake Shasta nearly empty. Mt. Shasta, usually snow-capped even at this time of year, had very little snow left, and it was on fire. Smoke filled the skies for miles. As we drove through central California temperatures soared. Central CA is now experiencing a heat dome like the one we experienced in Portland. In the news there, reports say that field workers cannot work through the day any more. It is physically impossible in the heat.

Climate change is real and it is escalating now. This is not a normal California drought. While Palo Alto temps are more comfortable, this change is affecting the whole west. We are not immune to the effects on areas that provide our food and water.

We each need to change the way we are living to reduce our carbon footprints. This isn't just bout leadership and devleopment pressure. This problem will req


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2021 at 1:23 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2021 at 1:23 pm

We just drove home from vacation in Oregon where we experienced the horrifying heat dome, a weather event that is supposed to be a once-in-a-thousand-years phenomenon that shattered historical heat records. It was terrible to watch the upper stories of trees scorch over three days. Green leaves turned yellow and red, then dark and crusty, falling like ash to the ground. Crops withered. It was awful to be outside in 113 degree heat. Walking out the door felt like walking into a blast furnace.

We drove home on Sunday. We were shocked to see Lake Shasta nearly empty. Mt. Shasta, usually snow-capped even at this time of year, had very little snow left, and it was on fire. Smoke filled the skies for miles. As we traveled through central California, temperatures soared. Central CA was experiencing a heat dome like the one we experienced in Portland. In the news there, reports say that field workers cannot work through the day any more. It is physically impossible in the heat--up to 114 degrees.

Climate change is real and it is escalating now. This is not a normal California drought. While Palo Alto temps are more comfortable, this change is affecting the whole west. Palo Alto, though we are somewhat protected by coastal breezes, is not immune to the effects on areas that provide food and water to us and other parts of the sate and nation. Let's all do everything we can as citizens to reduce our carbon footprints to maintain a livable planet and a vibrant nation.


Rhodoreae
Registered user
Ventura
on Jul 12, 2021 at 8:30 pm
Rhodoreae, Ventura
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2021 at 8:30 pm

We use about 50 gallons per day per person to meet our total water needs.

We have a hot water recirculation pump and a laundry to landscape greywater system.

Our garden is mostly CA natives but we do water the vegetable garden, fruit trees and our thirsty mature redwood so it won't die.

Not sure how much more we can reduce but we'll continue to try.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2021 at 12:26 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 13, 2021 at 12:26 pm

It's not just about reducing water use...It is also about reducing the greenhouse gas emissions we each create which is the root cause.

Each of us, every human on the planet, must help. Create smaller families, plant trees, reduce GHGs by switching to less carbon intensive modes of transportation and energy sources, using less stuff and choosing to buy, build and manufacture things that last longer.

Good read: Bill Gates book How To Avoid A Climate Disaster A primer and a plan. I don't agree with everything he says, but it helps us wrap our heads around the fundamental problems and start identifying a hopeful path toward action, rather than feeling overwhelmed.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2021 at 10:54 am
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2021 at 10:54 am

FYI,
"Almonds alone use about 10 percent of California’s total water supply each year. That’s nuts. But almonds are also the state’s most lucrative exported agricultural product, with California producing 80 percent of the world’s supply. Alfalfa hay requires even more water, about 15 percent of the state’s supply. About 70 percent of alfalfa grown in California is used in dairies, and a good portion of the rest is exported to land-poor Asian countries like Japan. Yep, that’s right: In the middle of a drought, farmers are shipping fresh hay across the Pacific Ocean. The water that’s locked up in exported hay amounts to about 100 billion gallons per year—enough to supply 1 million families with drinking water for a year." Maybe we should stop exporting so many almonds and alfalfa?


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