The drought is different this time. Everyone in the Sacramento region must conserve water


JULY 31, 2021 06:00 AM,

California is in the grip of another extreme drought. The consequences can be seen all over the Sacramento region and, unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

We expect to see water levels in the American River this fall that may reach historic lows. This will be difficult not only for people who enjoy recreating in our scenic river corridor, but also for the salmon, steelhead and other native species that need water to survive and reproduce.

That’s why we’re urging everyone in the Sacramento region to start conserving water in earnest.

Earlier this year, local water providers urged residents to set a 10% water conservation goal. In line with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement, we’re now calling for 15% conservation, and some, like the Fair Oaks Water District, are asking for more. This is a voluntary goal, but one we hope you’ll take seriously.

Water conservation is nothing new for the capital region. During the most recent drought of 2014-16, residents slashed water use by 25% on an annual basis — one of the deepest cuts achieved anywhere in the state. Most importantly, we achieved a large share of this reduction in the hot summer months, a difficult time to conserve.

It’s only five years later, and we’re asking you to do it again. This time, the cause is somewhat unexpected. Yes, we’ve had two dry winters in a row. But this year, with worsening climate change, we have even less water than many experts anticipated.

Continue reading the full op-ed here.

Ralph Propper is president of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, and Tom Gray is general manager of the Fair Oaks Water District. Both are members of the Water Forum.