With the torrential downpours of last week, Ventura and Ojai residents may feel that they can finally relax a bit about the water they use. Lake Casitas, the main water supply for West County residents, hovering at less than 40 percent capacity has kept locals not only watching their own water use, but also stirring heated debates over housing construction, citing the point that there wouldn’t be enough water for everyone. There is, however, enough fear of running out that conservation must be a constant in the region.
As of March 27, Casitas Municipal Water District reports that the lake is now at 35.7 percent capacity with a 10-day forecast of blue skies. Last year at this time, news reports showed a fluctuation due to storms from 35 percent to 42 percent. In 2016, 42 percent was considered the lowest since 1967. While the rain will bring green hills, surely we are far from a recovery where we can indulge in haphazard water consumption. And for the Mediterranean climate of California, our habits have not really ever been all that prudent.
Going about our routine lives, it’s important that we grasp how much water each of us uses. One way to start: Discuss the water bill with your kids and experiment with water use by measuring how much r is used for different lengths of showers. It’s not a tactic in fear-mongering but rather for being prepared. What can one person get done in a four-minute shower? Or consider using only one gallon of water to wash five dishes. Can you do it? What would happen, if for each minute the water runs, we had to give up something we liked? Perhaps that would curtail unnecessary use. For instance, the standard in apartments was a rate built into the rent. With new construction in many cases each unit has its own water meter. Undoubtedly, that will give such renters perspective.
At the other end of that spectrum are business owners and farmers who have their own issues with health, safety and viability that come with water use; but when it comes to the bottom line, it would seem that cutting costs is top priority for business owners. While we can focus on further regulating these operations, being mindful of our own use might be the best way to go.
2018 does not look promising for a deluge making its way to Casitas, but we can try and make the most of conservation efforts by adjusting our perspective on them. It’s not so much about whether the worst-case scenario will happen, but about being prepared for it just in case. It’s about understanding that we are a community working together not only to meet the needs of the people that live here, but also of our children and the families they may want to have and live here as well. We are a population that grows inherently and therefore we must adjust our habits to be able to share it with future generations.