By Joel Cruz |Staff Writer|
El Niño is currently a welcoming sight for water conservation efforts, despite the potential for flooding and mudslides as California enters what may be its fifth year of the worst drought in state history.
This year’s current El Niño system has tied with a system from 1997 as the strongest on record, with wetter conditions for California from January to March, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The first wave of El Niño storms dumped several inches of rain on southern California on Jan. 9, and capturing that storm water for precious water resources could help the drought-stricken areas of southern California.
Southern California is expected to receive the most rainfall in the state, with up to 60 percent higher than normal precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.
“The early storms were cold, and affected northern California as well as southern California,” stated geology professor Dr. Joan E. Fryxell.
“This is critical for California water supply, as it will melt gradually over the summer, providing water as we use the water in reservoirs,” added Fryxell.
The winter storm also benefited the surrounding mountain communities across California such as Big Bear.
According to Bigbeargrizzly.net, the major storm brought more than two feet of snow to Big Bear.
However, the El Niño system peaked and is unlikely to erase the state’s four-year drought, an estimated 39 inches of snow water from the Sierra Nevada as well as about 60 inches of rain would be needed this winter for signs of improvement, according to a report filed by the Association of California Water Agencies.
Even if El Niño brings in heavy rain and snowfall this winter, drought conditions may return next year, according to the NOAA.
Almost a year after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water use reductions up to 25 percent on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies, the conservation efforts still stand amidst the current El Niño system.
There are a variety of ways for students and faculty to help in the efforts to conserve water from El Niño.
“I personally participate in communication meetings telling people about the California rebates that will allow people to replace their lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping, sometimes for free,” stated student Kevin Miller.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has provided a few tips to decrease the amount of water wasted, these tips include fixing leaky kitchen faucets around the house, placing a cup and refillable water bottle in the bathroom for tooth brushing, aiming for a three-minute shower and scaling back the sprinkler’s run time by two or three minutes.
“Honestly I’m not home a lot, besides taking showers which are no more than 15 minutes, I don’t think I could do more to assist saving water,” said student Davon Dean.
Marie Valenzuela, a senior, had similar thoughts about the conservation efforts for the El Niño seasonal weather pattern.
“I don’t think anything will solve our drought other than better infrastructure,” said Valenzuela.
“A couple of good
storms don’t produce enough water to compensate for four years of well below average precipitation,” stated Fryxell.
“But so far, it is a promising start to what should be a wet winter, which will help,” concluded Fryxell.
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