Businesses will have to conserve water

February 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The California water crisis is so serious it's like an earthquake or a raging wildfire. That's the word coming from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California on Friday, who has now declared a drought emergency.

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"Water is a self-inflicted wound. It's not because of Mother Nature creating that. No. We know that there are droughts coming up periodically, so therefore we have to prepare ourselves for those droughts," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

The State Department of Water Resources says three years of below-average rain and snowfall has put the state in a desperate position.

Friday's announcement from Governor Schwarzenegger asks every Californian to cut water usage by 20-percent and calls for temporary barriers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta -- to protect water supplies.

Conservation could become mandatory if conditions don't improve by the end of March.

"One of the things that's really important is we want all of the citizens in California to understand that even though it's raining, or has been raining and is projected to rain, that the water supply conditions in the state are very severe, and that it is going to be a really tough year this year," said Wendy Martin, the California drought coordinator.

Cutting-back is one thing, but cutting-back by 20-percent is another. That requires each of us to make a real commitment to conserve.

It's a request most Californians won't have an easy time following. Cutting water usage by 20-percent is going to require a lot of sacrifice, according to Susan Siravo at the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

"That's really significant. We ask people to cut back voluntarily back in June of 2007, just by 10-percent and we've seen people achieve about a seven percent cut back," said Siravo.

Mandatory rationing could be next, but many water users are now wondering just how much water they can do without.

"I've really done just about everything I can and if I have to cut back, I really don't know where to go anymore," said Gloria Bell, from Los Gatos.

Farmers are already planning to plant fewer crops because of the drought. One of the first to go will be tomatoes because they require so much water. With a drop in supply, prices are expected to go up.

And at Almaden Valley Nursery, staffers know a big change is coming. They're now telling customers to buy more native and drought tolerant plants -- which require less water. The nursery will also carry less lawn seed because in times of water cut backs, lawns are usually the first casualties.

However, businesses that rely on a lot of water, could suffer the most. Those at Scandalous Salon are worried the water crisis will impact customer service.

"Part of it is pampering. Getting the scalp massage, conditioning treatments and all that we offer complimentary with a haircut is now a service we'll have to cut out," said David Nyblom, the Scandalous Salon owner.

Unless the cuts keep coming, Governor Schwarzenegger warns severe restrictions will be next.

We've had a wet couple of weeks and another one on the way-- but still it's not enough to bail us out of drought conditions. Every drop helps, but we're still far behind.

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