CBS News shared a shocking image comparing the drought conditions in the Western US. This time last year, small sections of the west were in moderate drought conditions, compared to this year where a vast majority of the map is blanketed by exceptional drought conditions. They report that over the past 20 years, the coverage of exceptional drought conditions has never surpassed 11%, yet we are currently at an unbelievable 27%.
In May of 2021, California’s drought emergency was expanded to cover 30% of the state’s population, and the conditions appear to be getting worse as the summer months are upon us. We are approaching this year’s fire season with critically low levels of vegetation moisture, which will simply exacerbate our water conservation issues.
Water used to fight fires is generally not taken from oceans due to the high salt content making the water corrosive, which requires the aircraft to be washed out with fresh water afterward. An article posted by The Spectrum in 2020 addresses the war against wildfires, and the water we’re using to fight them. Mike Melton from the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Land’s Fire Management Officer for southwest Utah, just three major fires in Washington County in July 2020 were responsible for drawing over 750,000 gallons of water from the local reservoirs. The Veyo West Fire burned nearly 3,000 acres and required over 100,000 gallons alone. Looking to California, where wildfires can burn hundreds of thousands of acres (and a record 1,032,468 acres in the August Complex Fire of 2020), you have to wonder where all this water is going to come from, and what it will mean for the average household’s water availability through this summer and beyond.
With reservoirs at an all time low, and going into the most daunting drought and fire seasons in recorded history, the Western US has a very rough summer ahead. This interactive graphic from the ca.gov Department of Water Resources shows the status of the state’s water reservoirs, how every one is less than the historical average mark, and most are falling under 50% of the reservoir capacity.
Drought conditions are likely to continue getting worse, water usages rates will continue to rise, and the availability of our planet’s most precious resource is going to become more and more scarce.
You can take the first step toward improving the global water situation by becoming more aware of your water consumption and finding ways to reduce your household’s usage. Checking your home for leaks, taking shorter showers, turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, running the dishwasher instead of hand washing, using a watering can for the garden instead of leaving the hose running, and paying close attention to your irrigation schedule can all help significantly. Keeping yourself in the lower tiers of usage will save you from high water bills. For many households, this can be difficult as you simply get a bill at the end of the month or quarter with abstract usage data to go off of.
The bluebot ultrasonic water monitor was designed to help. Simply clamp it on to your water line and use the app to monitor your usage in real time. Input your bill so you can keep track of your usage costs, and set custom alerts to track your progress throughout the month. The bluebot app will also notify you when excess usage or possible leaks occur, so you can take care of them before they become a big issue.