Nature conservationists in California are facing one of their biggest challenges yet as they try to prevent thousands of square miles of forests from dying out as a result of the ongoing drought.
In a study featured in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) in Washington, D.C. discovered that the California drought has already taken away much of the canopy water for 888 million trees in the past four years.
If current trends continue, the researchers believe the drought will end up killing about 58 million of the state's trees, which are considered to be some of the oldest and most massive in the world.
Not only would this lead to the destruction of thousands of square miles of habitat for animals, but it would also cause a significant increase in greenhouse gas levels as the carbon that is stored in the trees would be released back into the atmosphere once they die out.
The worsening impact of the drought has caused Gov. Jerry Brown to place California on a state of emergency in October. He also asked the public to reduce water consumption in order to help conserve the state's remaining supply.
Here are a few simple tips that you can do to prevent water wastage in your home.
In the kitchen
1. Rinse your dishes in a sink or pan filled with water instead of using running water from a faucet. You can also do this when rinsing fruits and vegetables.
2. Instead of simply dumping boiling or steaming water from cooking pasta into your sink, you can let it cool for a while and use it for watering plants or bucket flushing.
3. Make sure to load your dishwasher properly to avoid using too much water for washing.
Place carb-covered dishes, such as those with pasta, oatmeal, or potatoes, near the center of your dishwasher to let the rotating sprayer arm remove the gunk using a water stream.
Dishes covered in protein-based gunk, such as those with meat remnants, eggs, or melted cheese, should be placed near the edges of the dishwasher to allow the machine's swelling or hydration stage to thoroughly clean off the mess.
4. Avoid having to run tap water to cool it off for drinking. You can store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle instead.
5. Using an in-sink "garburator" to dispose of food waste requires a considerable amount of water in order to operate properly. It also adds to the volumes of solids that end up in your septic tank, which could cause maintenance problems later on. You can start a compost pile as an alternative way of getting rid of food waste.
In the bathroom
1. Avoid keeping the water running while you brush your teeth. Use the faucet to wet your toothbrush then keep it off until you are ready to rinse.
2. When waiting for your shower water to heat up, you can collect the cold water that comes before the hot one using a bucket or a waste can. This can then be used to water plants or flush the toilet.
3. Avoid using the toilet as a way to get rid of cigarette butts and other wastes. Throw them away in a wastebasket.
4. Make sure to fix leaky sinks and running toilets.
5. Have water-saving showerheads and ultra-low-flush toilets installed in your home.
In the yard
1. Replace your water sprinkler's head with a water-thrifty one.
2. You can also adjust the coverage of the sprinkler to focus on your lawn instead of reaching the sidewalk or even your neighbor's yard.
3. Add species of plants or grasses that do not use up too much water or those that are more resistant to the effects of drought.
4. Surround your plants with mulch to reduce the rate of evaporation and discourage the growth of weeds.
5. Keep your pool from losing water through evaporation by having it covered when not in use.