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US Drought Monitor – California – May 31, 2022
Source: US Drought Monitor

Gardening on the weekends has been my lifeline since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020. When I am outdoors among the trees and plants, all my cares and fears disappear. I am fully engaged. I am present. I am at peace.

Since drought is a recurring issue here in California, I have planted mostly succulents that are quite content with watering once or twice a week. Some succulents prefer even longer periods of ten to fourteen days between watering. But a sudden rise in temperatures can shock even the sturdiest of succulents. In March, when we experienced two days of high summer temperatures, a branch of my largest, three-foot high, jade plant collapsed with heat stress. With summer almost upon us, there will be no respite for several other plants that need extra water for giving their best.

Rosaliene’s Garden Plot with Succulents – City of Los Angeles – California – June 3, 2022
Rosaliene’s Garden Plot with Flowering Succulents – City of Los Angeles – California – June 3, 2022

The news for this growing season is not good. At his May 23rd meeting with our state’s largest urban water suppliers, Governor Gavin Newson called for an increase in water conservation. “Every water agency across the state needs to take more aggressive actions to communicate about the drought emergency and implement conservation measure,” he told them.

Our global climate crisis is no friend to a region that blooms and flourishes with water from large reservoirs, such as Lake Oroville that reached its lowest point last year since it was filled in the 1970s. We are in the third year of one of the most extensive and intensive droughts on record. January through March were the driest first three months in California’s recorded history. We have no choice but to use less water.

Aerial View of Lake Oroville – January 22, 2022
Photo Credit: California Department of Water Resources

On June 1, 2022, emergency drought restrictions went into effect for the six million of us who live in Southern California and receive our water supplies from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

“People need to take these restrictions seriously. There is not enough [State Water Project] water coming from Northern California this year to meet normal demands. So we must do everything we can to lower our use and stretch this limited supply,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said. “If residents and businesses don’t respond immediately, we’ll have to take even stronger action.”

Following the MWD’s directives, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has issued the following water use restrictions but are not limited to:

  • Watering with sprinklers is limited to one cycle of up to 8 minutes per station per watering day for non-conserving nozzle sprinkler systems (typical residential system), or two 15-minute cycles per watering day for conserving nozzle sprinkler systems.
  • ALL outdoor watering is prohibited from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • No runoff onto streets, driveways, and gutters.
  • No watering of any hard surfaces such as sidewalks, walkways, driveways, or parking areas.
  • Hand watering with a self-closing shut-off nozzle on the hose is permitted any day of the week before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m.
  • All leaks must be repaired in a timely manner.
  • No washing vehicles without using a hose with a self-closing water shut-off nozzle;
  • Strongly recommend washing of vehicles at commercial car wash facilities (most have water recycling system in place).
  • Strongly recommend use of pool covers to decrease evaporation.
Los Angeles – Know Your Watering Days 2022
Source Credit: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

For a gardener like me who waters my plants on Saturdays, I must now water on Sundays. Watering days are based on the last number of our street address: Mondays and Fridays for odd numbers; Thursdays and Sundays for even numbers. I use a watering can to avoid waste. It is also good exercise for someone who spends her days seated in front of a desktop monitor.

After our last major drought (2012-2016), I reduced my domestic water consumption by more than the 35 percent reduction now mandated by the MWD, equating to an allocation of about 80 gallons per person per day. Maintaining a healthy and vibrant garden will demand sacrifices. I have already had to let go of three plants that thrive on lots of water. Come summer, more plants will languish. My vegetable garden will be a test of resilience.