California’s Drought: Golden Brown is the New Green

Camping at Lake Camanche in March:  Ahhhh, 70+ degrees, relaxation and time with nature.  The only tick in our good time was the lake itself; it was only 30% full and losing water at the rate of an inch a day.  We meandered around a section of the lake and stopped at the spot where my son jumped in last summer to swim across to the other side.  Now, that portion of the lake was noticeably lower, only about knee-high.

Camanche Lake2

California is now entering its fourth year of drought.  We were told that our local reservoirs were in good shape, albeit a little low.  However, I heard on the news only this morning that if there is no relief, the experts believe our reservoirs will only last for another year.  The Sierra Nevada snowpack was a disappointment this year and it certainly wasn’t enough to offset the weeks with no snow at all.  A reading on March 15th by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) indicated that the water content of the northern Sierra snowpack was only 4.4 inches, 16% of the total average for the date.

The DWR Control Board announced that there was a decline from 22% of water conservation in December to a mere 8.8% in January.  This downward spiral was probably because it went from a wet December (residents not watering lawns and plants) to the driest January in years (watering again).  I noticeably cringe when I witness my neighbors wasting water by hosing down their driveways and sidewalks – use a broom for heaven sakes!  I asked this question (usually to myself since no one else in California seemed to care):  why even have green lawns in the “Golden State?”  Heck, mine is brown from June to October.  In all fairness, my lawn is really just a bunch of weeds, but looks great (and green) from January through May.

Camanche Lake March 2015

During the rainfall in December, I visited my local supply store and purchased a 32-gallon plastic garbage bin.  I left it in the back yard to collect rainwater and discovered that it was full to the brim within the week.  In drought-stricken Northern California, I was proud of my makeshift rain barrel.  However, I have already used about a fourth of it watering the thirsty spring flowers I have recently planted…color that’s necessary to offset the brown lawn area.  Is color really necessary though, Joanie?, the cute little angel on my right shoulder asked thoughtfully.  Yes!, responded the mini she-devil abruptly, lounging on my left.  Color it is then; I don’t like arguing with the devil.

As I already mentioned, December brought us some relief with a few rainstorms but January was the hottest and driest January recorded since modern records were first kept back to 1850, and with the balmy, sunny conditions, lawn watering accelerated in most places.  Like I said, everybody seems to want GREEN when we live in the GOLDEN BROWN state.  Brown should be the new green, I say.

I recently came across are some tips on conserving water ( and here they are:

  •  Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save  up to 150 gallons per month.
  • Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables and use it to water house plants.
  • Have a plumber re-route your greywater to trees and plants rather than the sewer line.
  • Plug the sink instead of running the water while shaving.
  • Choose drought-friendly outdoor plants and plant species native to your region.
  • Weed your garden and lawn regularly; weeds compete with plants.
  • Set a time to remind yourself to turn off the hose or sprinkler.
  • *Use a broom to clean your driveway and sidewalks.*
  • Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car.

As I watched a video online showing a true water-waster, I concluded that in between all of this harsh serious drought stuff, we needed a laugh.  Sheesh, even I get tired of being the self-appointed neighborhood water police, glaring menacingly at neighbors hosing down their driveways.  Laughing while watching someone else wasting water is fun, I found.  Spread the word.  Maybe laughter can be the new green.


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