“If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.” Those of you who grew up in 1970s California, as I did, will remember these immortal words about saving water. Conservation was mandatory; fines were imposed; and gardens withered. But there were still holdouts like my mom. She wasn’t the most communal-minded of people, being extremely introverted. She also loved her garden so much, she couldn’t bear to let it die.
To continue in the vein of an earlier post: We are currently experiencing the state’s most severe drought since at least that time. Migratory birds are stressed and dying. Honey production is down in a bee population that’s already suffering. CA agriculture will lose over $2 billion this year, and nearly 20,000 workers will lose their jobs, resulting in higher produce prices nationwide.
Public service announcements and ads run everywhere, yet some still don’t seem to grasp the drought’s urgency: California increased its overall usage by 1% since January. Northern California decreased its usage, but only by about 12%, and we can all do better. Now we have more options and resources than we did 40 years ago: Check your local water agency, and incentive programs such as Sonoma County’s, for ways to conserve, including rebates for removing lawns. There are myriad gorgeous options for native, drought-tolerant plants to replace thirsty lawns and exotics. Water early morning or after dark, to prevent excess evaporation. Use mulch, and soil with vermiculite to help store moisture. Avoid planting new plants in your garden, at least until cooler weather arrives. Put up shade structures. Seek water-wise gardening tips at local nurseries or online.
Yes, flush your toilet less. Take short showers. Collect shower water (and other running water) in buckets and water the plants. Don’t wash your driveway or car (clean windows with clean microfiber cloth, vinegar, and squeegee to keep them safely clear). Install rain barrels and/or graywater systems. More helpful websites: SaveOurH2O, and the state’s drought page, which details how California is dealing with this state of emergency.
What are some of your water-saving tips? The more we share, the more we save water. It’s the source of life, and as a resource it’s not infinite.