It is widely known that global warming is real and that the planet is, indeed, heating up. And, despite what you may have heard, California is (still) in a massive drought. Though the seemingly copious amounts of rainfall last year and the showers throughout March and April have thankfully graced us with their presence, this year is still turning out to be incredibly dry.
The severity of the drought in California affects many matters — from our water supply to how land stays naturally hydrated.
Many Californians have acknowledged this “broken” water cycle and have made independent efforts to conserve water. For years now, we have seen the same “ASK THE WAITER IF YOU WANT WATER” signs at restaurants, and we’re told not to leave the water running while brushing our teeth, and to take five minute showers (which is actually possible, folks!).
In 2015, in a more drastic, statewide measure, Governor Jerry Brown established a 25% water reduction on supply agencies — but, still, this did not solve the situation.
Perhaps we can learn something from Israel? Nine years ago, the Middle Eastern country adapted to their water needs by introducing wastewater recycling technologies.
Wastewater is water that has been contaminated by human use. This can mean toilet water, sewage water, dish water, ect. When wastewater is recycled, it goes through a treatment facility that eradicates human pollutants and contaminants. The purified water can then be used for tasks like watering crops and, believe it or not, even drinking.
Israel receives less than 10 inches of rain per year on average. This has forced the country to take drastic, sustainable measures to address their water problems as they understand they can not merely rely on rainfall. California, however, receives more than double that yearly rainfall (23 inches in 2017) and chooses to take the gamble and depend on the rain, instead of focusing on wastewater recycling and desalination.
When Californians don’t receive enough rain the drought is prolonged because we are not adopting innovations on a large enough scale — innovations that would ultimately help fix the problem in the long term.
If we look to Israel, the world leader in recycled water, we see 90% of their generated water waste is cleaned and reused. Spain recycles 25% of its wastewater, making it the second largest nation for water recycling. Meanwhile California recycles just 1% of its wastewater, despite being home to one of the largest water facilities in the world (in Orange County).
Just imagine the possibilities if Californians upped their current recycling percentage from 1% to 5%! It would mean literally hundreds of millions of gallons of water could be reused.
Water is essential. The conservation of it will always be relevant, especially when drastic weather affects our need. Population growth is expanding at a rapid pace, and at this rate the resources we need from earth will not suffice. It is essential to plan for the future and create solutions for limited resources now… when we still have time.
Kena DeLong is a freshman at San Francisco State University. She is studying journalism and political science.