California drought to make summer months more difficult

Sunny skies and spring-like temperatures may have many Southern Californians in good spirits this month, but officials are warning that a lack of rain is posing a serious problem that may become even direr by the time summer rolls around.

This winter marks the third year that precipitation levels have been noticeably low and data suggests that this year could be the driest California has experienced in over four decades.

Governor Jerry Brown recently declared a state of emergency and encouraged people to reduce their water usage by approximately 20 percent.

The unfortunate side effects of the unusually dry weather can be seen as firefighters scramble to put out various blazes along roadsides and other areas.

Much of the fires have been started in brush which has dried as a result of the low precipitation, leaving individuals like Justin McGough, a regional fire battalion chief, feeling as though the 2013 fire season never really ended.

“While there is some green grass out there, the amount of dead vegetation and lower fuel moistures in some vegetation is typical of what we see in August, September and October,” McGough said. “And we’re seeing that right now in our winter, which should be our wet season.”

McGough said that individuals in the area need to bear in mind that safety precautions should be taken this season because of the larger quantity of dry brush.

The fire battalion chief suggested that individuals looking to mow their lawns and engage in similar activities should do so only in the early morning hours or postpone such activities altogether until periods of high fire danger subside.

Recreational shooting and off-roading are two other ways fires may unintentionally get started, according to McGough. He suggested that in order to mitigate the chance of fire when engaging in these recreational activities, individuals should use common sense thinking.

Vehicles such as motorcycles should not be laid on their side in areas laden with dry grasses and other forms of brush because their hot mufflers can spark a fire, and activities like shooting at outdoor ranges should generally be postponed in times when fire danger is extremely high, he said.

McGough also encouraged area residents to visit, a website created by Cal Fire that suggests a three step “ready, set, go!” plan for preparing for a wildfire.

The Fire Battalion chief reminded area residents to be careful with their water usage during this difficult dry season, something Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority General Manager Celeste Cantu agrees is important.

Cantu said the drought will bring some rough months ahead and may impact food production because there won’t be the kind of water necessary to grow crops in certain areas.

“We are going to be seeing fields fallowed, which means they’re not going to be able to plant plants that are seasonal crops and we are going to see permanent crops, like tree crops, stressed,” she said. “(With tree crops) farmers may be faced with a situation where they can give enough water to keep their trees alive, but not enough water for their trees to be productive.”

Many experts have predicted that this decrease in crop production is set to raise food prices throughout the country, as California’s agricultural industry is one of the biggest in the nation.

Cantu said the effects of the drought will be felt in many other ways than a smaller crop production. California’s natural ecology will also be affected.

Streams, creeks and other bodies of water will experience higher salinity and a greater number of chemicals because a lack of rain means that bodies of water will not be refreshed, she said.

With all the ways that water is being wasted, Cantu said one way individuals can help is by being careful not to over-water grass and also to make sure that their landscape has some less water intensive plants that can handle the pressure of a drought.

“We can handle our drought situation by landscaping these beautiful yards, but using a slightly different scheme,” she said. “Instead of expanses of green grass, have flowering bushes, plants, trees, roses – you name it. It’ll be just as beautiful but it will take a fraction of the water.”

3 Responses to "California drought to make summer months more difficult"

  1. Lee   February 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    "United we stand; divided we fall." Nowhere is this mantra more true than when it comes to the environment! If we unite and ALL of us do the right thing, this planet has a chance of making it; if we don’t, we don’t have a prayer in heck! EVERY little act matters! Every single one! So please, Fallbrookers, do your part in helping the environment and sharing your tips no matter how inconsequential you may believe they are with us. Thank you. Here are mine.

    * Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Oh, we are all guilty of doing this, but let’s make a concerted effort of once and for all making it a daily habit. And PLEASE instill this discipline into your kids, also.

    * Please hand wash your dishes and do not use a dishwasher. By washing dishes IMMEDIATELY after eating, you save precious water trying to remove hardened left overs. Also, do not use chemicals. We, Fallbrookers, have plenty of limes, so let’s use them to wash dishes with. Works like a charm. If dish washing soap contains lime juice . . . don’t ya think the real thing is better?!

    * Hang dry your laundry and do not use a dryer. Why on earth would we, here in sunny and warm SoCal, use a dryer? Can somebody PLEASE explain that one to me? You save energy, money, and the longevity of your clothes by hand drying. Build yourself a clothes hanger if you want. It’s easy. You got plenty of spare wood lying around. Yes, yes, keep it out of sight from your neighbors; we all know that. (We don’t want to see Aunt Ethel’s bloomers. Hmm, maybe Grandpa Frankie does, on second thought.)

    * Gray water. Enough said. PLEASE look into it.

    * Mulch your plants thereby saving precious water by keeping the soil wet AND keeping the roots cool.

    * Don’t over-water your plants. Mature plants, even in the hottest summer months, do NOT require much and daily watering! All that plants require in the summer is a good soaking ONCE-A-MONTH! That’s it. And many don’t even need that.

    * Don’t water that darn ice-plant. For what?!

    * For goodness’ sake, do NOT water now during the winter months! I see some folks LITERALLY watering their landscape or groves the day AFTER it has rained. Mindboggling! Please folks!

    * Go turn off your irrigation system right now. Yes, turn it off completely. Your plants don’t need regular watering right now during the winter months. OFF!

    Those are some ideas I have. PLEASE Fallbrookers, let us unite and do the right thing, AND please spread the word! Don’t be shy! Screw the ego! We simply don’t have a choice, folks. If you see a neighbor watering too much, please have a chat with him/her. What’s more important to you, the precious ego and pride . . . or water? When it comes to nature, there is no ego.

    Let’s work together! Thank you.

  2. Lee   February 7, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    In terms of fire prevention, may I please convince you, my dear fellow Fallbrookers once again, to PLEASE completely eradicate all Eucalyptus and pine trees from Fallbrook! Both trees serve absolutely no ecological purpose here in SoCal’s basins and are, instead, a fire hazard. The folks of the property directly east of Potter Jr. High along Reche Rd. removed their Eucalyptus trees this past fall. Bravo and thank you! Smart.

    In the upcoming spring, PLEASE mow/clear your groves/properties as soon as possible. The recent fire up in L.A. was a sobering reminder that fire season here in SoCal . . . is ANYTIME. So please, wipe off the cobwebs off your muscles and get to work as soon as the weather turns warm and the brush/grass has NOT even turned brown. Mowing brush/grass while it is still green, yes, will require more than one clearing, but it is much easier to clear than dry, brown brush/grass. Translation? Let’s not be lazy, folks.

    ALL of us love Fallbrook! There is no dispute about that. So let us help one another in minimizing the potential of fire of our beloved Fallbrook.

    We are all our brother’s keeper. Or if you don’t like that saying, let’s have each other’s back. Thank you.

  3. Lee   February 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    * Please do not take longer than 3 min. showers. No, it’s not gross; it works just fine. First, rinse yourself, then lather up with the water turned off. No, you won’t freeze; don’t be a prima donna. Then rinse off. Works like a charm.

    * When running hot tap water, please catch the preceding cold water in bowl. This can amount to 0.5 gallon or even more. Now imagine when we all waste water like this just how much water goes down the drain? Please folks, EVERY drop matters.

    Thank you.


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