L.A. has come up with a new design to save water moving forward during California’s drought. The main reservoir in Los Angeles has been turned into a giant ball pit. How will this help exactly? Well, the “shade balls” that cover the reservoir are made from black polyethylene and coated with an ultraviolet light-resistant material. They are also filled with water so that they don’t get swept away by wind. The 4-inch balls are supposed to last for 25 years without degradation.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti helped to disperse some of the 96 million balls across the 175-acre reservoir as a sign that L.A. is working to save water during the drought. The reservoir, which is located in Sylmar, holds about 3.3 billion gallons, which would supply the city with drinking water for up to three weeks if need be.
“The balls cost 36 cents each, for a total of $34.5 million. The utility has been testing the concept since 2008, reporting that shade balls reduce evaporation by 85 to 90 percent. That should equate to saving nearly 300 million gallons a year, enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people. The balls also inhibit microorganism growth, reducing the treatment the water must undergo through other means, which could save the city $250 million over time. The city says the balls will shade and cool the water, reducing evaporation from the reservoir and making it less susceptible to algae, bacterial growth, and chemical reactions that can produce harmful substances.” (National Geographic)
These shade balls will end up helping Los Angeles to cut its water use by 15 percent over a two-year period.
Why Did L.A. Drop 96 Million ‘Shade Balls’ Into Its Water?. National Geographic. August 12, 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150812-shade-balls-los-angeles-California-drought-water-environment/
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“How many times are you watering your lawn per day?” This is a question that residents of Fresno, California have been asking each other pretty often recently. Actually, not only are they asking this, but they’ve been reporting each other for over-watering. Although this may sound a bit harsh, the reality of the California drought is that people are going to have to start cracking down even harder than they have been. And it’s working for Fresno- their water consumption is down 33% after one month.
But this kind of change doesn’t come easily. Wells, a water conservation team in Fresno, has issued a little under half of all 838 penalty citations to residents who have been over-watering. The LA Times reports that, “things got serious for Fresno last summer after the city’s groundwater dropped four feet and its allocations of imported, stored water dipped from 50% from one reservoir and all the way to zero from the other.”
So, beginning last August, residents were only allowed to water their lawns twice per day. Even in 106-degree weather, Fresno residents try to stay true to this regulation and report those who don’t. The city’s Public Utilities Director, Thomas Esqueda, is proud of the 515,000 residents of Fresno. He says that even most of the few thousand residents that were watering their lawns every day have cut back to only a couple of times a week.
Even with all of this exciting news about Fresno, Californian counties in general still have a long way to go. 97 California districts still have zero water regulations in place. Los Angeles and Long Beach have both only issued less than 10 citations. And some cities have issued none.
The new mantra of Fresno, “Don’t frown on brown” needs to be more widely circulated throughout California. Awareness on drought issues and education on water usage need to be widespread. Where do we start? Well, some of us need to set our sprinklers to twice a week. Some of us need to take shorter showers. Others need to simply turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth. All of these things are helpful for using less water. We just need to take action and actually choose to do them.
“As Its Water Dwindled, Fresno Cracked Down Hard”. LA Times. 6/22/15. http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-fresno-water-penalties-20150622-story.html#page=1
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One bottling company’s vague policies have sparked discourse on the relationship between California’s drought and bottling water in California. How much groundwater are these companies using? Would it affect the drought if these companies no longer bottled? Who oversees groundwater usage rules? Which companies in California use the most water for these purposes? These are questions that have been asked frequently during the eruption of conversation about bottling water and the drought. Let’s take a further look into the conversation…
It started with Palomar Mountain Spring Water, a bottling company based in San Diego County and located on Palomar Mountain. How bottled water companies work is that they buy land located on large reservoirs of groundwater and use the water to bottle and disperse to the community for a fee. These resources do not have limits; “The spring is also not subject to the kind of drought restrictions that are causing residents across San Diego County to let lawns brown and leave toilets unflushed,” says Morgan Cook from the Union Tribune. It is also uncertain how much groundwater is being used by these companies for bottling purposes because they are not required to release information about usage of the springs that they own.
-But wait, shouldn’t that be public information? ‘”The complaints that we don’t really know what they’re doing, the complaint that they’re taking a public resource and commercializing it at a great profit- these are all real problems…,” says Peter Gleick who is the president of a water think tank in Oakland.’ The Union Tribune posted this and other thoughts about this in their article No Drought Rules for Bottled Water, which was released today (6/8/15).
Another issue that the article brought up was the fact that Palomar Springs is just one of many bottling companies that have taken advantage of the fact that bottled water natural resources are unrestricted. Six companies in the San Diego area alone are included in this category, of which draw from resources like the Lakeside springs, Palomar Mountain area, Santee, and private wells. And because these companies have the right to not have to report the amounts of water they use, no one knows which companies are using more than others.
All of this being said, bottled water is not the ultimate source of the California drought. Although these companies may be helping to exacerbate its severity, the drought situation in California derives from many other sources, including natural disasters (forest fires, earthquakes, and storms), climate change, and human impact on the environment.
If you’d like to learn more about the article in the San Diego Union Tribune, check out their link below. If you’d like to learn how you can help the environment save and recycle water, visit filtercon.com for more information.
San Diego Union Tribune, “No Drought Rules for Bottled Water”. 6/8/15. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/jun/08/tp-no-drought-rules-for-bottled-water/2/?#article-copy
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Tagged behavior, bottled water, california, climate change, commercialize, community, complain, drought, drought restrictions, environment, Filtercon, groundwater, habitat, human impact, information, issue, land, lawns, life, lifestyle, limit, natural disasters, Oakland, Palomar, patterns, policies, profit, public, recycle, reservoir, rules, San Diego, San Diego County, source, spring, spring water, union tribune, water bottle, water bottle companies, water bottles