News of critical water shortages in California are no secret, making headlines on news programs throughout the entire country. One can’t help but wonder how it is possible to keep crops of any kind – from food to the vineyards we all know and love – alive during these difficult times. The good news is that many Napa Valley residents and businesses are working hard to do their part to conserve water wherever possible.
California’s Water Saving Mandates
The month of April saw the state’s first mandatory water use reductions – the first in state history. While the drought has been hot news recently, the state itself has been struggling for the past four years, reaching a crisis point this past year after record-low snowfall totals left little water to run down from the mountains.
The executive order issued by Governor Jerry Brown “directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25% reduction on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90% of California residents, over the coming year.”
Each water agency has the freedom to determine how that reduction will occur, but many residents have already stopped watering their lawns and gardens, have stopped washing their cars, and have started taking much shorter showers.
Officials within Napa County were pleased to report that four out of five of the cities within the county met or exceeded the new restrictions right away in the month of June – a huge accomplishment. The city of Napa itself saw a 30% drop in use compared to the same month in 2013. The city attributes much of the savings to better water use practices, especially outdoors. They’ve put emphasis on saving trees, vegetables, and fruits before lush green lawns and colorful gardens.
Conservation efforts throughout the state are about to get stricter, though. On July 16th, the House passed legislation to help redirect water away from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and back towards the farm belt before it hits the ocean. While advocates believe this will help save agriculture, proponents believe not allowing the fresh water to run to the ocean will allow ocean water to push back into the delta, causing even more problems. We’ll have to keep an eye on Washington to see if this bill passes or, like so many others, fails to make it through to the White House.
No matter what, the reality is that there isn’t much we can do about the drought itself but wait and see what Mother Nature decides to do. In the meantime, we continue to use water thoughtfully and keep our fingers crossed for heavy snowfall in the mountains this winter.
Concerned about water restrictions? Don’t let that stop you from visiting Napa. The community is thriving and the vineyards are open, welcoming visitors from all over!