Despite recent rains, the staggering proportions of the current drought affect us all. Even little children seem to be aware. Last week, our 8-year-old granddaughter living in another state asked, “Grandpa, how’s the drought?”
Her question and a recent Woodland City Council meeting on a water conservation ordinance have caused me to reflect on some things I wrote several years ago. I will repeat some of what I said.
Years ago, my wife and I visited Israel and Egypt. The land seemed arid and dry. Near the ancient city of Caesarea we were intrigued with well-preserved portions of a large Roman aqueduct. Two thousand years ago it had carried water from Mount Carmel for more than 10 miles to a thirsty populace. No longer usable, it seemed to symbolize the struggles of a once-powerful civilization to provide sufficient water to its people.
The picture of that aqueduct remains with me to this day. Perhaps little has changed. A record-setting drought, aging infrastructure and complex regulations have combined with our increasing population to bring about a very real water crisis. Its dimensions extend to people and plants, farms and fish, towns and trees.
Water conservation and efficiency should concern us all. Think of what could happen if every child, youth, adult and family in our community would engage in thoughtful consideration of how we might increase the efficiency of water use and decrease our consumption. The combined effect of every household setting some goals and taking a few steps would be significant.
Conservation discussions and education must continue and expand within our schools, clubs, churches and other civic organizations. But I also stress the importance of such conversations taking place at home between parents and children.
The following questions, adapted to the ages of the participants, might be part of the discussion:
* What is the drought?
* Why should our family conserve water?
* How can each of us conserve?
* Do we have low-flow toilets and shower flow restrictors?
* What can we do to cut back on water use in our yard?
* What could be our reward for achieving our family water conservation goals?
Government must be careful not to over-regulate conservation efforts. It must ensure that the right balance is struck between individual liberty and the needs of a community. And it must find ways to encourage and recognize those who are conserving.
Research seems to show that voluntary conservation measures are normally effective only when the citizenry is convinced of the critical nature of a water shortage or drought. Are you convinced? Is your family convinced? Is mine?
There are many resources available to help us become both convinced and engaged. For example, the home page at www.yolowra.org contains some helpful links.
I return to the ancient Roman aqueduct. Perhaps others might find something similar to help prompt them to become more involved in water conservation efforts. Perhaps a photograph of an almost-dry reservoir or a dry stream bed would work. Maybe a simple drawing by a child or grandchild would be helpful. Writing goals down and reviewing them regularly might assist. Some find it useful to put a reminder on the refrigerator or somewhere visible.
Whatever helps us remember to conserve water, I urge us all to give greater attention to what we might do to more efficiently use this very precious resource.
— Bill Marble, a Woodland City Council member, chairs the board of the Water Resources Association of Yolo County and is vice chairman of the board of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency.