Firsthand Look at California Drought

Canyon Country Club Palm Springs

CAP Management’s Chief Sustainability Officer Alex Bergeron visited California for Memorial Day and got a firsthand look at their drought situation.

Following the conclusion of his academic semester, Alex went to southern California for a number of reasons: for mountain and desert hiking, to speak with managers of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument to prepare for next semester, and to have a firsthand look at the current drought situation which has unprecedented water restrictions in effect statewide.

If you have been following our blog, you’ll know that we have been monitoring the exceptional drought afflicting California to see how it might affect or relate to Colorado and to seek comparisons to the on-and-off drought conditions that have affected our state in recent years. Water issues are important to all Western American residents. At CAP Management, water conservation is a priority and we have found great success in retrofitting HOAs in the area of landscaping (installing xeriscape in place of thirsty blue grass) and toilet/fixture replacement to make sure we have enough water in the Denver area.

While the fact is that California is currently running dry, however slowly, there is not presently any kind of horrifying calamity apparent. In fact, most residents do not even seem to understand the situation – or want to. For example, the streets of Palm Springs and other Coachella Valley communities are still as green as ever and the golf courses are in full function. In Twentynine Palms, near Joshua Tree National Park, within the Mojave Desert, they are watering landscaping during the heat of midday. So what gives? Are the messages from Governor Jerry Brown not being heard? Ignored? Are people simply not interested in changing unsustainable habits? One local resident interviewed said that she thinks people where she lives will have to literally see their taps run dry before they take any action.

Then, of course, there is the possibility that the media has made it seem worse than it is, as one other local resident suggested. There was, after all, potable water provided at the campgrounds in the Mojave National Preserve and Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. It is possible that the situation is not as dire as seen in the news, but the very low lakes and reservoirs show that it is bad. At the current rates of consumption and evaporation, it may only be a matter time before California residents do fully realize a dry reality. Of course, if unnatural turf grass is left to turn brown as recommended by the Governor and people use only what they *need,* as Denver Water would say, then perhaps a crisis can be averted. After all, precipitation has not been uncommon in recent weeks thanks to a strong El Niño. We will have to see.

It was very interesting for Alex to examine the situation in person. While no conclusive status of the situation was easily identifiable, we’re all glad Colorado is in much better shape. For now.