With new water restrictions being enforced by Governor Jerry Brown the Golden State is about to get a lot more golden. The lush landscapes of Southern California homes will have to weather the remainder of the drought under the strictest of water conditions yet as a 25 percent reduction in water consumption has been instituted.
While many bemoan the effect that the now four-year long drought has had on California communities, home owners in cities such as Los Angeles are celebrating the refreshing change of pace toward a mass movement of preservation and sustainability.
“For over 10,000 years, people lived in California, but the number of those people were never more than 300,000 or 400,000,” Governor Brown said to the New York Times. “Now we are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning.”
It’s a task that home owners are certainly game for. Many developers have feared that the lack of water would greatly affect the development of homes and residential communities, which the local housing market is desperately in need of. However, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti insists that examples set by drier locales such as Phoenix and Las Vegas prove that development is not entirely impossible.
“We have to deal with a new normal,” Garcetti said. “That said, do we have enough water to sustain life here? Absolutely. Do we have enough water to grow economically? Absolutely.”
“Cities that are much drier and truly desert — Phoenix, Las Vegas — have shown the ability to have economic growth,” he said.
Drought Sets Stage for Fundamental Change
While this isn’t the first serious drought the state of California has weathered, the governor’s mandate does indicate a marked shift in the way the state is dealing with the problem. The restriction of the use of water by all home owners shifts the responsibility of the problem and its solution, making it more universal and thus paving the way for a more sustainable way of life embraced by all.
“This will change what Californians see as beautiful,” said Heather Cooley, water program director for the Pacific Institute, an environmental research group based in Oakland.
Now instead of water-guzzling green lawns, Southern California home owners are embracing lawns with sustainable landscaping, taking shorter showers, installing water-saving appliances and avoiding unnecessary acts such as hosing down the car every weekend. With these changes, Southern California isn’t diminishing its value, but rather upping its character and resilience.
“Every time California has a problem — we ran out of electricity in the early 2000s, then we ran out of money, and now we are running out of water — people say California is over,” said Dr. Starr, a University of Southern California historian. “It’s not over. It’s too important a part of American culture to be over. But it will change itself.”
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