Growing up in South Pasadena, California, I was very familiar with the term “drought.” However, it was not until I reached high school and took AP Environmental Science with teacher Don Wielenga that I was able to truly understand the water situation we were in. Even though Southern California was declared to be “drought free,” in January of this year, we cannot ignore that this will not last forever.
I interviewed some local residents, asking them what they thought were important issues of conservation in our area. Katie Lam and Sophia Gerodiaz, SPHS ’17, mentioned that water conservation is a “big issue and a “major concern.” Robert Steele, SPHS ’17, responded, “Water issues have always been on my mind. I don’t think any ecosystem is made to handle the vast amount of people in all these urban centers.” He also mentioned the shortages that occur at the sources due to pumping and transportation of water from all over California and neighboring states.
Southern California has numerous sources to provide the millions that live here with fresh water. A few of the main sources are the San Gabriel Valley Aquifer, the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta that transports snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains, groundwater, and others. South Pasadena gets most of its water from the San Gabriel Valley Aquifer. Maintenance and replenishment of the aged aquifer has resulted in increases in water taxes and fees for residents.
As we enter this post-drought stage, citizens must remain accountable for our water usage. Reverting to pre-drought behaviors will likely worsen the effects of the next drought to come. Because of this, it is important that we know and contribute to the efforts our town and county are making to educate us on water conservation and what we can do to lessen our water usage.
One of my favorite methods of mitigating water use is the planting of California native plants in place of grassy front lawns. Not only does this reduce the amount of water necessary to sustain gardens, it contributes to the conservation of other native Californian species that rely on native plants to survive. Another mitigation is to replace showerheads and toilets with low-flow versions which can save thousands of gallons of water per month.
To see other methods to reduce water usage, and to also see the South Pasadena Turf Removal Rebate Program, see the provided links:
SPHS ’17, Smith College ‘21