If You Can't Stand the Heat, Ask for Water Conservation

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The summer is sure to bring the heat. We can already tell it's going to be a summer of rushing to the ice cream truck, cold showers and ocean swimming. 

As things quickly heat up, we can clearly see how important it is to have a sustainable water conservation plan that takes into account drought concerns and environmental impact throughout San Diego County and beyond.

To put things in perspective, the color-coded portion of the map below depicts the severity of drought throughout California with data from the US Drought Monitor. It was produced as a joint venture between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

DroughtOur animated water supply map overlays maps produced by the United States Drought Monitor with outlines of the Colorado, San Joaquin and Sacramento river basins. We used maps for the past year, using one a month. For consistency, we chose the last Thursday of each month as the source of the drought map.

When you read news reports about parts of California being in "exceptional drought," this is the map they are referring to. To see the drought's impact on our water supply sources, I overlaid the outlines of the Colorado River Basin and the Sacramento River Basin combined with the San Joaquin River Basin, which flow into the Bay Delta. The watersheds San Diego draws its water from are nearly 100 percent impacted by drought. The San Diego County Water Authority's Master Plan update doesn't focus enough on conservation, recycling and local stormwater capture as future sources.

As stewards of the water, we are concerned with the scarcity of water in our supply chain and the environmental impact that this plan could have in the long run. The energy needed to transport this water translates to greenhouse gas emissions, further intensifying climate change impacts like drought in the southwest, leading to more aggressive and spontaneous wildfires like what we have been experiencing recently.

We must develop a plan that focuses on water recycling and conservation so we can stay hydrated for the days, months and years to come and reduce climate change impacts associated with our water supply choices.

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