CA Waterkeepers Call to Return Water to the Colorado River

In the face of unrelenting drought, California’s urban residents have managed to slash water use by more than one-third. These water savings have been a rare bright spot in California’s drought, reducing dependency on imported supplies from the Colorado River. Building off these conservation achievements, California Waterkeepers have authored a resolution to call for a small percentage of water saved to be transferred back to the Colorado River, to allow for “pulse flows” and a restoration of natural river conditions.  
In the spring of 2014, the Colorado River wound through the dewatered Colorado River Delta to the Sea of Cortez for the first time in 13 years. This “March Miracle” was the result of a unique policy agreement to create a very small pulse of water to mimic natural spring flows now rarely witnessed in the heavily diverted river. Twenty-two months later scientists continue to measure groundwater recharge, habitat restoration, and ecological benefits resulting from the brief pulse flow. 
Transferring back to the Colorado River a percentage of the water California’s urban residents save will help guarantee pulse flows can continue to benefit the Colorado River Delta. As Californians have demonstrated, impressive reductions in water use can be achieved without lifestyle transformations, impacts to the economy, or changes to daily life. Furthermore, California Waterkeepers know that California residents will be inspired to continue to conserve if water saved will benefit the restoration and recovery of the Colorado River. 
Unchecked development, a drier, warmer climate, and constant diversions continue to push the Colorado River beyond the breaking point. For these reasons, California Waterkeepers ask that a small percentage of the water saved in California be given back to the Colorado River, so life can once again bloom in the Colorado River Delta.

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Native Landscaping Prepares Businesses for Drought or Drench

California’s unprecedented drought has motivated many businesses and homeowners to rethink their gardens, replacing thirsty lawns with beautiful native plants, and other smart landscape designs more attune to our arid climate. These changes have helped California’s urban residents slash outdoor water use, provide habitat for pollinators, and reduce overall urban water consumption by up to 31% statewide. The benefits of native and smart outdoor landscaping, however, won’t stop with the rain.

As the seasons change and El Niño rains set in, the same smart outdoor landscapes that helped Californians weather the summer in style will go to work filtering and slowing the flow of rainwater. Heavy rains will bring short-term drought relief, but they also wash pollutants from land into our rivers and ocean. Hard surfaces like concrete prevent rain from seeping into the ground where it can recharge our aquifers. Garden features like basins and bioswales help clean stormwater and allow it to soak into the ground. Rain barrels and cisterns also reduce polluted runoff, and capture water for later use.

To promote smart landscapes that work for clean water rain or shine California Coastkeeper Alliance and the Blue Business Council are teaming up with 1% for the Planet to launch the #Drought2Drench campaign. The campaign will showcase plants and garden features that help to capture and clean stormwater. Businesses like Healdsburg SHED, with a savvy rain garden attached to a creek, are helping demonstrate that investing in water wise gardens pay year-round dividends.

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