Wednesday's manual snowpack measurement kicked the year off with a disappointing start. At just 1.5 inches of snowfall, it's the second-lowest measurement since the state started officially tracking snowpack in 1964.
It's not time to sound the alarm just yet, but it is an opportunity to revisit our water-saving habits. And who better to revisit water conservation with than Felicia Marcus, chair of the California State Water Resources Board.
When she spoke with A Martinez, Marcus explained that though we're not on "red alert" right now, we should still have a heightened sense of awareness. "We still have a few months in the winter season when we get our major rain and snow and just a few big storms," said Marcus, "But it's still worrisome because of what we've all been through."
It's only been eight months since California has officially been out of the drought, but the shadow still looms over the state. And those water saving habits we picked up during that period? We should keep them up...for the most part.
We may not have to be quite as stingy with it as we were at the height of the last drought but it just makes sense to save water all the time because then you have more reserves in your local groundwater and your local reservoirs particularly in Southern California."
The April 2015 monthly snowpack measurement was the lowest recording ever for that month. Governor Brown responded with the state's first mandatory water restrictions, requiring cities cut as much as 25 percent of their water use. Wednesday's record brought the second lowest measure ever. So, why no announcement yesterday?
"You don't want to be the boy who cried wolf on this one. April of 2015 was into the third year of a drought with what ended up being the worst snowpack overall in 500 years...and the reservoirs were perilously low. Right now our reservoirs are really pretty full...well above average in most places. But overall, in the state we're in a much better situation than we were in 2015."
But the tides can quickly turn, Marcus warns, and if these conditions keep up for another year, we can find ourselves back in the same spot as a few years ago. Therefore, we must keep up our water saving habits now. Here are Marcus's best quick tips for conserving water:
Be stingy with water outdoors on your lawn and ornamental landscaping—"They don't need much water."
But DO water your trees—"It's really important to water your trees and water them properly."
Shorter showers—Kind of a no-brainer, but it's a fairly big one.
Check for leaks (particularly in your toilet) — "It just takes a little bit of food color to figure it out and usually, you just need a new flapper and you're going to save tons of water." (Here's a helpful YouTube video that walks you through it.)