The Bar-On Brief: Drought state of emergency is still in place


Illustration by Maria Salter

By Shauli Bar-On , Columnist

The Bar-On Brief: A weekly column

Governor Jerry Brown announced a state of emergency concerning the California drought close to three years ago on Jan. 17 2014.

The state of emergency can only be called off by Governor Brown, so it is still in effect.

On Tuesday, Brown delivered the state of the state speech. Despite the state of emergency still in full swing, the word “drought” was uttered a grand total of zero times.

The word “water” was said a mere three times, none of which addressed the current situation. Brown said “water” twice in reference to the passed water bond and once when reciting the lyrics to ‘This Land is Your Land.’ Nothing about the state of emergency, which is still in place.

This is concerning.

True, water levels have exponentially increased since last year, reservoirs are filled 100 percent above average and Tahoe snow is falling at a record high.

According to the Mercury News, rainfall since Christmas ended the California drought in roughly half the state, including the Bay Area.

But that does not give an all-clear for Californians to abuse water usage and take the past years of groundwater extraction for granted.

Despite the tremendous reduction in the California drought, AP reports that water restrictions are still in place. Extra drops of rain are filling our reservoirs does not excuse the lack of attention to the waste of water.

KQED reports that 18 percent of household water usage comes from leaks. Managing these leaks allowed families to meet the 20 percent reduction goal the California legislature mandated in the drought’s peak.

The most in-home water consumption was due to toilet flushes, a study sponsored by CDWR and managed by the Irvine Ranch Water District, found. Households can reduce water usage by buying modern, efficient toilets. Not only will this preserve California’s water, but it will cut the expenditure bill.

Furthermore, regardless of the rainfall, households should minimize shower lengths and get in the habit of closing the tap while brushing teeth and washing dishes.

The drought may be over in the Bay Area, but these are habits that we cannot afford to forget in case the weather does not cooperate with the state again.

In contrast to this year’s state of the state,  the governor said “water” six times in last year’s state of the state, eight times in 2015’s and 10 in 2014’s.

The governor may not have touched on the drought as much as expected in the state of the state, but that does not mean Californians should forget the past and present drought.

And with that, I rest my case.

The Bar-On Brief is a weekly column that runs Thursdays. 

Follow Shauli Bar-On on Twitter @shauli_baron