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Antelope Valley braces for another drought

Tips to reduce water usage, small steps in the right direction

Merdies Hayes | 1/24/2014, midnight

Gov. Jerry Brown this week declared a drought emergency throughout the state, telling residents they must reduce their water usage by a minimum of 20 percent, as well as directing agencies and water districts to initiate steps to ease the effects of certain water shortages affecting everything from farmland in the Central Valley, to municipal use, as well as residential front and rear lawns.

“We ought to be ready for a long, continued, persistent effort to retain our water use,” Brown said while warning that Californians may face unprecedented dry conditions, higher water bills and likely higher prices for fruit and vegetables. “This is no partisan adversary. This is ‘Mother Nature.’ We have to get on nature’s side and not abuse the resources that we have.”

Antelope Valley residents are very familiar with drought conditions. During the prolonged California drought from 1985 to 1992, the metropolitan area of Lancaster and Palmdale and the unincorporated area of Antelope Acres was inundated with wind-blown dust emitted from disturbed upwind portions of the western Antelope Valley. Almost a decade of “dust devils,” tumble weeds and dry soil affected daily activities so much that the bad conditions resulted in a locally-based multi-agency group called the Dustbusters Taskforce, organized and convened in 1991 to formulate dust mitigation strategies.

Last year was California’s driest year on record; state reservoirs are at critically-low levels and there seems to be no end in sight. Some Northern California communities which rely on shrinking local water supplies have imposed rationing, while other cities and towns have told residents to stop watering their lawns. The last statewide drought declaration was issued in 2009 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; California has had three executive orders related to drought since 1987.

There are proven ways to conserve water and reduce your bill:

• Don’t use the hose to clean off the driveway or sidewalk

• Take a short shower; fill the tub to only one-third capacity

• Wash only full loads

• Place a brick in your toilet

• Install water-conserving sprinklers, or reduce lawn watering to once a week

• Plant drought-tolerant plants/foliage

• Don’t allow the faucet to run while brushing your teeth.