Taking Action During California’s Drought
By André Villaseñor
Did you know up to 60 percent of your body is made of water? Recently, I thought about water quite a bit while my daughters and I were camping in Joshua Tree National Park. To survive three days in the desert, we brought 15 gallons of water. We were able to thrive on less than 12 gallons, including drinking, cooking, and brushing. This water-restricted camping trip was a great experience for someone like me, who lives in California, where drought is a household word.
California is in the midst of an unprecedented drought. The Sierra snowpack is 91 percent below its normal level, and groundwater reserves have reached an all-time low. Everyone in California is experiencing the drought, from farmers, to consumers, to manufacturers. Governor Brown issued a State of Emergency, calling on Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.
Federal facilities in California are responding to the call. As participants in EPA’s Federal Green Challenge, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Southwest Lab in Vista, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in San Francisco, and Naval Base Coronado near San Diegoall earned accolades for their water conservation achievements.
- The DEA Southwest Lab cut water use by 40 percent through simple, low-cost fixes, such as upgrading water faucets, encouraging employees to report leaks, and replacing suspect valves.
- The FDIC conserved over 729,000 gallons of water by upgrading to efficient WaterSense irrigation systems, faucets aerators, and new boilers.
- Naval Base Coronado conserved over 101 million gallons of water by allowing its lawns to go dormant and installing low-flow urinals.
On May 6, EPA honored these facilities for their water conservation efforts, as well as other area facilities for reducing their environmental impact as part of the Federal Green Challenge. EPA estimates that over the past two years, Federal Green Challenge facilities in the Pacific Southwest have conserved over 350 million gallons of water!
Water conservation is important regardless of where you live. Reducing water use can take many forms – from reducing lawn and plant watering, to installing more efficient or low-flow devices such as faucets and showerheads. For me, I realized just how little water my family could use after our camping trip. For our Federal Green Challenge partners, they’re demonstrating how federal facilities can make a difference in their communities. No matter how you decide to reduce your water usage, you’ll be in good company to help ease the drought.
About the author: André Villaseñor, a specialist in Sustainable Materials Management, fulfills EPA’s mission from Region 9’s Southern CA Field Office in Los Angeles. He is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.
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