As year three of the California drought drew to a close, something amazing happened: two weeks of storms making it one of the wettest Decembers in recent history. There was plenty of talk about the end of the drought and everyone felt some relief. That series of storms dumped enough rain to put us well above average for the season.
Then there was January. Typically one of our wettest months, San Jose registered “a trace of rain” measuring 0.02 inches of rain. According to our local paper, January was the driest on record.
I drove over the bridge crossing Lexington Reservoir on my way home this afternoon. The county built the reservoir in 1952. It serves as one of the primary sources of fresh water in Santa Clara County. I made a detour so I could take a few pictures.
Santa Clara County Water District captures water in the reservoirs during the wettest months, then they release it into the ground water basin during the dry months. It provides more than half the fresh water used in our county. The water levels continue to fall, compounded by the unseasonably warm temperatures.
Gardening During a Drought
It feels irresponsible at this stage to plan a summer garden. We’ve talked of adding a water catchment system to use for irrigation, but unless it rains, it won’t do us any good. I researched a grey water system last year, but they aren’t without there challenges. The other half of the household is not on board.
I’m currently sheet-mulching half of the lawn in the back garden. I’ll plant drought-tolerant natives when the soil is ready. What remains is a small patch of green near the patio.
These are ‘small garden’ problems. Communities in California that rely on well water have seen that source run dry. Farmers need water to raise crops, and everyone needs clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
What is a gardening blogger to do? Should I rename this blog The Guilty Gardener? Should I abandon a garden blog altogether? I’m at a bit of a crossroads.
As we head into year four of this drought, we have a few bright spots on the horizon. Three days of storms are in the forecast this week. February and March still lie ahead. But it could be years before we recapture lost ground. Water is not mine to waste.
I would love to hear from you. What would you do in my shoes?
The Atlantic Photo: Dramatic Photos of California’s Historic Drought