Years of low rainfall are causing many in California to think hard about diminishing supplies of water. In this commentary, author Peter Gleick argues that wise water use and management -- not big-scale infrastructure projects -- is the solution.
"After more than a decade of generous rainfall and healthy river flows, the dry years are back. Much of the state, notably Southern California, has been experiencing severe drought. The major reservoirs along the Colorado River are less than half full. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada last winter was half of normal, and meteorologists say we may be headed into another dry winter despite this weekend's rain."
"Fortunately, there are cheaper, quicker and greener alternatives to huge, expensive water projects. But this requires rethinking how to manage and consume our water."
"We also have to take a hard look at our gardens and agricultural fields. As development in California pushes inland, houses are being built in the hottest, driest areas of the state. A person in a single-family home in Southern California's Metropolitan Water District consumes more than 60 gallons outdoors daily, mostly to water the lawn. That number rises rapidly as you travel inland, where up to 80% of households' total water use is applied to thirsty lawns. Nearly all of this water evaporates and cannot be captured for reuse locally."