According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, the state of California is officially out of the red- the red of extreme drought.
California received an abundance of rain in this winter season that help to push the state out of an extreme drought that started in Dec. of 2011, lasting 376 weeks until March of 2019.
Many Californians, after 7 years of drought, had come to see the many water restrictions implemented to combat the drought as a regular part of life, with restrictions in many counties and cities banning watering or irrigation of landscaping from 9 am to 5 pm, watering down of driveways, and other activities that could be deemed wasteful of water resources, with hefty fines awaiting those who did not abide by them.
Despite declaring the drought emergency over in April of 2017 with Executive Order B-40-17, former California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., better known as Jerry Brown, decided to maintain water usage restrictions and water conservation practices in an effort to better prepare for future droughts, according to a press release published by the Governor’s Press Office on April 7, 2017. “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner. Conservation must remain a way of life,” said Brown.
This led to many homeowners and businesses to change and make more adequate choices in landscaping. For example, planting drought resistant plants that don’t require significantly less water to survive than traditional landscaping choices.
Here at Cypress College, it was a similar story. During the drought many of the lawns located around the campus were given lower watering priority in order to abide by the water restrictions, such as lawns located in the circle around campus, and making the trees one of the main watering priorities.
“That was our priority, to keep the trees alive. We don’t want to lose any trees,” mentions Cypress College Landscape Coordinator Sergio Leonardo.
Leonardo also mentioned they did this through a Maxicom irrigation system, which analyzes weather conditions and helps with unnecessary water loss. Irrigation systems such as this monitor water usage and conditions, preventing water loss in the case of, for example, burst pipes, in which case the system would shut off the water and notify them through the system there is a problem.
Though the drought may have ended, Leonardo said they will still continue to strive for more efficiency in regards to the water usage on campus, by continuing to use the Maxicom system and other water saving measures, such as drip watering methods which drips water on concentrated areas to ensure the plants and landscaping are intaking all the water, without losing any to runoff or other factors.
Amidst this Leonardo also brought attention to the new walkway made for the students walking by Parking Lot 7, encouraging students to avoid walking on the grass. The new dirt path has small flowers that are surrounded by what look like wood chips, which is called mulch. “It helps to hold the moisture in,” Leonardo said, preventing water from evaporating, allowing more efficient water usage.
Though the drought may be over, these methods will allow institutions, such as Cypress College, to curb their water usage and costs and help ensure that in the case of future droughts, they’ll be ready.