California needs to reevaluate its water usage

California is facing one of the most severe droughts on record, which caused Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in January. According to California’s Department of Water Resources, 2014 was the driest year on record.

Brown’s state of emergency calls for a 20 percent reduction in water usage by all residents of California. This call for action is a necessary step for proper water use, but is not enough for the Sacramento region.

The Sacramento region uses the third most water per day, according to the Department of Water Resources.  At 279 gallons per day, Sacramento’s water intake is extreme when compared to the state average of 196 and even more alarming when compared to Los Angeles’s water usage of 155 gallons per day.

A city more than six times as populated as Sacramento is able to consume 124 gallons of water a less a day. That is astonishing, illogical and unacceptable.

Sacramento needs to implement a paradigm shift in its water economics immediately. For starters, 58 percent of residents do not have a water meter to monitor usage.

In addition, landscape watering is responsible for about 70 percent of urban water consumption. These two weaknesses in Sacramento’s water intake are major contributors to improper water budgeting.

Sacramento is currently in the process of installing water meters. This is a critical step forward, but the deadline to finish this initiative is 2025.

This clearly shows that Sacramento has not made the water crisis a priority. This city has the most unmetered properties in California. A goal of 2025 shows residents that the only purpose for installing these meters is to play catch-up to other regions, not conserve water.

Without water meters, there is no way to hold residents accountable for excessive water consumption. The best way to ensure residents cut back water use is to monitor their intake and financially charge accordingly.

Regarding landscape watering, Sacramento is working to establish certain days of lawn watering. This is a good policy to have, but without water meters, how is this going to be enforced?

Charging for excessive water use will cause residents to stop watering their lawns on their own, allowing for that 70 percent of water consumption to be reduced. That will serve as proper enforcement for this policy.

More needs to be done to balance California’s water budget, however. Pipelines need to be repaired to prevent leaking, irrigation for farming must advance to conserve water usage and dams and reservoirs need to be upgraded to provide better water storage.

This is a crisis that requires more than one course of action and Sacramento must do its part.

This city has taken small steps to reduce its water use, but not nearly enough.  Water meters alone will not reduce water consumption to where it needs to be, but it is an action that needs to be taken immediately in order to start budgeting water properly.

Procrastination is the theft of time and, in this case, the theft of our most valuable resource.  Action must be taken now.