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California drought 2014

Last year was declared the driest year on record for the state of California. This year, the entire state is suffering from low water levels due to lack of rain and snowpack. It's hard to perceive the impacts of this drought from the South Bay, or even most of the Los Angeles basin, but it's definitely happening. It's now time to become more conscious in our water use before we turn our lush, bountiful state into a permanent desert.

California is no stranger to drought. Our cold, coastal ocean current that flows down from Alaska does not provide enough heat to form rain clouds in a typical "La Nina" year. About every four years or so, an "El Nino" current happens where the surface temperature of the water is warmer, and can produce more rain.

Typically, Los Angeles only sees about 14 inches of rainfall annually, mainly in the winter months. Wildfire season doesn't usually kick off until late summer, but there have already been a few bad ones like the one in San Diego a few weeks ago. This is a sign of the severity of drought in California.

Another sign of drought which we might not realize until closer to harvest time in autumn is that a lot of agriculture in our state is being affected. Citrus prices will be higher in the fall, and some farms are having to remove trees just because they take too much water.

Los Angeles is somewhat spoiled in that we don't have to see where our water comes from, we just need to turn the water faucet on and we have water ready in an instant. Unfortunately, there will likely be more regulations, restrictions and even raised prices for this most valuable resource in the future. Some cities already have water restrictions where lawns can only be watered certain days of the week.

To help conserve water, there are many things that could be done around the house to limit water use. Many newer models of laundry machines, dishwashers, toilets, etc. use less water than older models. Check for any water leaks in faucets and pipes because a little leak can mean a lot of water wasted over time. Outside, limited water use by watering the lawn when it's most efficient will conserve water. Xeriscaping the yard is also a good option. Native plants are drought tolerant, and will be helpful for local wildlife.

The drought may not feel too severe, but it is a big problem. If no preventative habits are formed now, the effects of it are going to be felt a lot closer to home.