SACRAMENTO — Water-saving tips to weather the drought are key features at this year’s California State Fair, which runs through July 26.
The state Department of Water Resources’ award-winning “Californians Don’t Waste — Save Water in Your Home” exhibit in the Counties Building offers hands-on demonstrations of ways to conserve water in kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms.
The agency also has an outdoor booth at the fair’s farm at which experts such as landscape specialist Julie Saare-Edmonds give tips on landscape irrigation efficiency.
“We’re pleased by the turnout at the State Fair and the interest fairgoers show in our exhibits,” DWR spokeswoman Elizabeth Scott said in an email. “We’re also finding that the drought seems to be on everybody’s mind. Not only are folks interested in hearing from us about new ways to conserve, but they want to share with us what they’ve been doing at home to save water. That’s encouraging.”
The 162nd state exposition opened on a cool morning July 10 with the theme, “The Best is Back.” The Golden State’s abundance of crops and farm animals always take center stage at the fair, as its 32-year-old farm is one of the most popular destinations for attendees.
The farm’s attractions include a daily farmers’ market, an outdoor kitchen grill, an aquaculture exhibit, an insect pavilion and talks by the University of California’s Master Gardeners. A local supermarket chain also sponsors a “passport” program in which families can learn about crops and healthy eating while they visit the farm and eat a snack at the end.
Nearby, the fair’s livestock building and adjacent shaded stalls feature some 4,500 entries during the course of the festival, as livestock exhibits are shown in shifts. Entrants compete in youth and open divisions.
The DWR’s water-saving tips come as urban areas are under a state mandate to reduce their water use by at least 25 percent from 2013 levels, with some areas facing targets of up to 36 percent. Farms statewide have had their surface water allocations drastically reduced or shut off completely.
The department’s outdoor exhibit includes a low-water garden maintained with a water-efficient irrigation system. The exhibit offers drought-tolerant plant ideas and tips for conserving water with compost and mulch, according to a news release.
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SEATTLE — A driver’s near-death encounter with a falling tree is raising awareness about a little-known drought danger.The man was driving to work this morning on NE 125th Street in the Lake City neighborhood when a huge tree fell across the roadway, smashing onto his windshield. He escaped with minor injuries, which his father said is a miracle.”Half-a-second sooner and he’d probably been dead,” remarked Steve Mounce as he waited for a tow truck to take his son’s car away.A City of Seattle arborist determined a structural problem with the tree caused it to fall, but another arborist believes there’s more to the story.”What you’re talking about is referred to by arborists as summer branch drop,” explained Scott D. Baker, a consulting arborist and tree risk assessment expert. He established his company, Tree Solutions Inc., to help homeowners better protect themselves from accidents.Also known as “sudden limb drop”, it refers to a condition in which water-starved trees stop releasing water vapor, as usual, through their leaves.When a tree continues to absorb any moisture it can find in the earth, that H2O starts backing up in parts of the tree at risk of falling.”The limb will gather a lot of water weight rather rapidly,” said Baker. “That, of course, increases the likelihood of a heavy limb giving way.”He believes our region’s drought conditions were a significant factor in today’s accident, and says dry weather accounts for a recent spike in reports of falling trees and limbs. Several tree service companies he works with have contacted him about the surge.The city’s arborist said there is no proof, but dry weather may have been a contributing factor in the Lake City incident. City staff also say they notice a spike in falling trees and limbs during extreme weather events, including prolonged periods of drought.Baker says “sudden limb drop” has been studied for more than a century and is still not fully understood scientifically. And it is not easy to predict whether a particular limb or trunk might break off due to dry weather.But the threat is real and illustrates why homeowners may want to consider hiring a consulting arborist or reputable tree service company to conduct a risk assessment of their property.Baker, however, tells people to keep it all in perspective.”The risk of getting killed by a tree is twice less likely than getting struck and killed by lightning,” he pointed out.
Californians are using a lot less water at home.
Finally, some good news on the California drought beat: Californians reduced their residential water usage in May by a whopping 29 percent compared to the same month in 2013, according to a report released today by the State Water Resources Control Board. That’s the steepest drop in more than a year.
Californians may have been inspired to reduce their water use by the mandatory, statewide municipal water cut of 25 percent that Gov. Jerry Brown announced in April, though those cuts didn’t go into effect until June. (Those 25 percent reductions did not apply to agriculture, which uses an estimated 80 percent of the state’s water, though some farmers have faced curtailments.)
“The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus in a press release. “That said, we need all Californians to step up—and keep it up—as if we don’t know when it will rain and snow again, because we don’t.”
In May, California residents used 87.5 gallons per capita per day—three gallons per day less than the previous month. Big cities that showed the most dramatic cuts include Folsom, Fresno, and San Jose. But water use by area varies drastically, with places known for green lawns and gardens, like Coachella and Malibu, using more than 200 gallons per person per day. Outdoor water usage is estimated to account for about half of overall residential use.
Officials are cautiously optimistic. Board spokesman George Kostyrko says Californians “did great in May and we are asking them to keep doing what they are doing and work even harder to conserve water during these critical summer months and beyond.”
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s drought-stricken cities posted record water savings in May, ahead of mandatory conservation targets that took effect in June.
The figures below show how cities have fared in cutting back water use since they started reporting monthly to the State Water Resources Control Board last summer. All conservation reported through May has been voluntary.
The following large agencies serving more than 40,000 people saved the most and least water so far:
These large agencies with per-capita water use higher than their regional average saved the least water from June to May compared to the same months in 2013:
Agency, County, Average Per-Capita Water Use (Gallons), Water Savings, Conservation Mandate
City of La Habra, Orange, 95, +1.9%, -28%
City of San Clemente, Orange, 99, +.6%, -24%
City of Whittier, Los Angeles, 99, -2.6%, -20%
Olivenhain Municipal Water District, San Diego, 150, -3%, -32%
Carlsbad Municipal Water District, San Diego, 113, -4%, -28%
Santa Margarita Water District, Orange, 107, -4%, -24%
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 174, -4%, -32%
Rancho California Water District, Riverside, 176, -5%, -36%
City of Brea, Orange, 109, -5%, -24%
City of Corona, Riverside, 109, -5%, -28%
These large agencies with per-capita water use lower than their regional average saved the most water from June to May compared to the same months in 2013:
Agency, County, Average Per-Capita Water Use (Gallons), Water Savings, Conservation Mandate
Dublin-San Ramon Services District, Contra Costa, 66, -30%, -12%
El Dorado Irrigation District, Placer, 113, -25%, -28%
City of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, 45, -24%, -8%
City of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, 70, -23%, -12%
City of Tracy, San Joaquin, 84, -21%, -28%
American Water Company Sacramento District, Sacramento, 84, -21%, -20%
City of Roseville, Placer, 99, -21%, -28%
City of Sacramento, Sacramento, 103, -21%, -28%
City of Woodland, Yolo, 90, -21%, -24%
Elk Grove Water Service Sacramento, 101, -20%, -28%
Source: Associated Press analysis of data published by the State Water Resources Control Board.