March was hot. We all noticed that. Then we read the details in Sunday’s Tribune. It said Paso Robles, my hometown, and San Luis Obispo, the county seat, both had several record-breaking hot days in March.
San Luis Obispo had nine days with temperatures in the 80s and two days in the 90s. Four of those days set high-temperature records. Paso Robles had 10 days in the 80s and three in the 90s. Seven of them set records. But those temperatures were no surprise. We’re in the fourth year of a drought.
By fourth year, I mean fourth “rainfall” year, not calendar year. A rainfall year runs from July 1 through the following June 30. In this current rainfall year San Luis Obispo has received about 10 inches of rain and Paso Robles about 8 inches. Nobody knows for sure when or if this present drought will end. Our Earth could be having a climate change, whether we agree that such a thing exists or not.
So what can we do to survive this drought? Well, Gov. Brown said those of us who live in cities and towns must reduce our water use by 25 percent on average, and he set different targets for each community.
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What if his 25 percent cut turns out to be too much? Will the state of California replant our lawns and landscaping?
Or what if a 25 percent reduction is too small? That may very well be the case. The Public Policy Institute of California said about 80 percent of the water that people use in California irrigates farmland.
That leaves only 20 percent for people in towns and cities to use. So, a 25 percent reduction in that city-town percentage would yield only a 5 percent lessening of California’s overall human water use. (Twenty-five percent of 20 percent equals 5 percent.) Is that enough?
So I might have to let my lawn die. So be it. It’s already half dead. I under-watered it last summer.
Also, during the current severe drought a brown lawn is a badge of honor, public evidence that I am conserving water.
Pale khaki dryness is the natural color of grass in the North County in the summer and fall. In fact it is the natural summer and fall color of grass in many parts of California. This is, after all, the Golden State.
Gov. Brown did not decree any water-use reductions on farmers and ranchers. He said they have already suffered from the drought. I agree they have, but does that mean they should be allowed to continue pumping unlimited amounts from underground formations, which nature may never fully replenish?
I think not. And I think we all should continuously and publically support all efforts to democratically regulate the fair use of underground water. It isn’t unlimited.