California Gov. Jerry Brown has issued an executive order placing unprecedented restrictions on water use throughout the state. The move marks the first time mandatory water restrictions have been implemented in California — a sign of just how bad the state’s drought has become. Governor Brown cited record-low levels of snowfall during California’s winter as a reason for issuing the order. The announcement is a significant one, as it dictates the way California’s most precious resource will be conserved throughout the worst drought in the state’s recorded history.
There needs to be a change, not just in the way policy dictates water use, but in the way private citizens live their daily lives. Californian Facebook users who dumped ice buckets on their heads in the name of ALS research last year received a lot of flack for wasting water during a crisis, but actions like those are not necessarily the root of the problem. Of course, they definitely don’t help. Californians can and should be able to continue showering, washing dishes, and using water like the rest of the nation. They just need to start conserving and cutting back. According to Time, an action as simple as reducing your shower time from ten minutes to five minutes can save 25 gallons of water.
When it comes to larger-scale, unnecessary uses of water, however, California residents need to completely rethink their actions. Aside from aesthetics, there is absolutely no need for a well-watered lawn in a city like Los Angeles. The ignorance of people who water their lawns on a daily basis is quite literally destroying the community. “We’re in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”
Agriculture is also obviously a major source of the drought’s problem, as the industry accounts for 80 percent of the state’s water use. According to CNN, however, Governor Brown’s executive order does not apply to the agricultural industry. The only requirement is that the industry report more information about its groundwater use. It’s a flaw in Brown’s plan, but not one that takes away from its overall importance.
If Governor Brown’s executive order does anything to affect the lives of California residents, it will, at least, alert them that the drought has gotten serious. It’s a commonly discussed topic in the state, but the average person does little to actually help deal with the crisis. Even in areas that are leading conservation efforts out of necessity — such as pockets of central California, where restaurants refuse to serve water and the urinals don’t flush — it doesn’t seem like a possibility that the water will ever actually run out. Governor Brown’s 2014 declaration of a state of emergency last year got the discussion going, but, hopefully, this executive order will influence people to start thinking more carefully and rationally about their unnecessary water use.