This spring, transform your yard into a water-wise landscape with these six native plants.
Changing seasons, changing landscapes: How to turn your yard into a water-efficient urban oasis.
Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water every year in the United States.
It may be a cliché, but when it comes to predicting summer water reserves, we really do take it one day at a time.
Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:
A late-winter cold snap over the eastern half of the nation contrasted with warmer-than-normal conditions from the Plains to the Pacific Coast, save for lingering chilly weather in the Northwest. The eastern cold spell was accompanied by mixed precipitation across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, resulting in widespread drought reductions. Much of the south experienced drier-than-normal weather, which coupled with recent dryness led to widespread expansion of drought. Drought conditions across the west remained unchanged, though renewed Pacific storminess was taking aim at the region at the end of the period…
There were no changes to this area’s drought depiction, with light showers (less than 0.5 inch) offering no substantial relief to the Long-term Moderate Drought (D1)…
Central and Southern Plains
Drier- and warmer-than-normal weather persisted, maintaining or worsening the region’s drought. Across southern Nebraska and much of Kansas, 7-day average temperatures up to 7°F above normal coupled with increasingly dry conditions noted out to 60 days (locally less than 25 percent of normal, deficits of 1 to 3 inches) led to widespread expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0). In eastern Kansas, 90-day precipitation less than 50 percent of normal (locally less than 30 percent) continued to deplete soil moisture, resulting in the expansion of Moderate Drought (D1). In Colorado, unseasonable warmth (7-day average temperatures up to 18°F above normal) and protracted dryness (6-month precipitation averaging 30 to 50 percent of normal) led to the expansion of Severe Drought (D2) in north-central portions of the state; rain will be [needed] soon everywhere east of the Rockies to prevent a rapid intensification of drought as winter wheat continues to break dormancy and soil moisture requirements increase. The same held true in Oklahoma, where weekly average temperatures up to 10°F above normal (locally higher in the Panhandle) and persistent dryness (6-month rainfall averaging 50 to 70 percent of normal) led to an increase in D2…
The short-term trend toward increasing dryness and drought continued, though some benefits from recent rain were noted in the south. In Deep South Texas and along the Gulf Coast, 2-week rainfall of 2 to 6 inches resulted in widespread reductions of Abnormal Dryness (D0). In contrast, unseasonable warmth (10-15°F above normal) and dryness (60-day rainfall 30 to 50 percent of normal) led to widespread expansion of D0 from Amarillo to Lubbock. Similarly, 60-day rainfall less than 30 percent of normal led to the introduction of Moderate Drought (D1) in north-central portions of the state. The northeastern corner of Texas has also seen some of the driest conditions over the past 60 days, with precipitation totaling less than 50 percent of normal (locally less than 20 percent); consequently, D1 was expanded to reflect the pronounced short-term dryness…
Outside of New Mexico, conditions remained unchanged to region’s predominantly long-term drought. A pronounced dry signal over the past 60 days (10-35 percent of normal) led to an increase in Abnormal Dryness (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) across eastern New Mexico. Meanwhile, the Southwest’s lingering long-term drought areas are still exhibiting deficits beyond the 2-year window, with 3-year precipitation totals averaging 60 to 75 percent of normal. More rain will be needed to fully eradicate the lingering impacts and deficits of the region’s 5-year drought, particularly in southern California…
A dry start to the period featuring lingering late-winter chill over the east will give way to increasing chances for rain and mountain snow from the Pacific Coast States into the nation’s mid-section. A cold area of high pressure will slide off the East Coast, allowing a pair of slow-moving disturbances to track from the Pacific Coast into the middle Mississippi Valley. These systems will ultimately slow in response to building high pressure over the upper Midwest, resulting in potentially heavy rain (1 to 4 inches) from the central Gulf Coast into the middle Mississippi Valley, with a secondary swath of moderate to heavy rain (locally more than an inch) from the central High Plains into the Great Lakes and Northeast. Likewise, locally heavy rain and mountain snow will return to the west, though the precipitation will largely bypass the lingering long-term drought areas in the Southwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for March 28 – April 1 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures and precipitation over most of the nation, with cooler-than-normal conditions confined to northern New England and drier-than-normal weather limited to California and southern Florida.
From the Associated Press (Seth Boronstein):
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculated that February 2017 averaged 55.66 degrees (13.08 degrees Celsius). That’s 1.76 degrees (.98 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average.
It was also the second hottest winter in the northern hemisphere on record. Records go back to 1880.
In the past, Earth doesn’t come near record heat if there’s no El Nino. This year it did — on every continent.
NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo called it clear evidence of climate change.
She calculated that the rate of February warming since 1980 is twice as high as since 1880.
From Water Currents (Brooke Barton):
On World Water Day 2017, here are six positive trends that give me hope:
1) Global Companies are Embracing Sustainable Development Goals
Launched by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030. Big companies that use a lot of water around the world, such as BASF, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Novozymes and Unilever are integrating these water goals into their sustainability plans. Diageo, the company that brings you Guinness, for example, released an ambitious plan that includes a 50 percent improvement in water use efficiency and 100 percent recycling of wastewater. It’s also developing community projects in water stressed areas where its production sites are located and has thus far provided 600,000 more people with access to safe drinking water.
These companies are recognizing that to ensure long-term water supplies for their business, they must give water back to the communities where they operate.
2) The World’s Biggest Water User is Making Strides
That’s agriculture, of course. From farm to factory, producing food is the most water intensive business on earth. More than 70 percent of the world’s freshwater is in fact used to irrigate crops and raise livestock. Through their massive purchasing power, the companies that buy, process and sell the food we eat have the power to raise the bar for sustainable water use in farming. And more of the largest food companies – from PepsiCo to Campbell’s Soup to Driscoll’s are starting to do just that, by evaluating their growing regions most at risk for water scarcity, and developing plans and targets for working with farmers to conserve water resources.
Last fall, in fact, a number of food companies – including Hain Celestial, Hormel Foods, PepsiCo and WhiteWave Foods – worked with Ceres and the World Wildlife Fund to set new commitments to address water risks as part of the AgWater Challenge.
Among the commitments, PepsiCo is working with its agricultural suppliers to improve the water efficiency of its direct agricultural supply chain by 15 percent by 2025 (compared to 2015) in high water risk sourcing areas, including India and Mexico. And Hormel Foods is developing a the first comprehensive water stewardship policy for a meat company, setting water management expectations that go beyond regulatory compliance for its major suppliers, contract animal growers and feed suppliers.
3) Companies in the West are ‘Walking their Talk’ on Water Conservation
Increasingly, companies operating in water-stressed regions are proactively taking action to conserve and protect water sources. Kellogg’s, Gap, and Genentech are among a growing cadre of companies engaging with California policymakers on the urgency for stronger water management policies in this drought-prone state. Even in the era of Trump, companies are seeing it in their collective interest to help get water policy right.
Many of these same companies are also using innovation to reduce their water consumption, such as by adopting large-scale water reuse practices. Or some, like General Mills and Sierra Nevada, are collaborating with stakeholders at the local, watershed level on the development of groundwater management plans, helping to implement California’s new groundwater law. These companies understand that staying in business over the long-term will require a fundamental shift in how they use water.
4) Cities are Driving Innovation
The tragedy in Flint, Michigan and widespread concerns about lead contamination in drinking water are grabbing news headlines, and rightfully so. Aging infrastructure leaves many around the U. S. vulnerable to tap water with high lead levels. It is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed by government leaders.
Yet at the same time, many cities are deploying innovative solutions to protect and preserve water resources. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, one of the first public agencies to remove lead pipes from its water infrastructure decades ago, remains on the cutting edge, implementing numerous water reuse and reclamation projects as well as innovative wastewater and storm water management projects.
In Philadelphia and Syracuse, New York, local water officials are implementing storm water management programs that use green infrastructure to help capture runoff and protect their water supply. Big Spring and Wichita Falls in Texas have developed potable reuse — “toilet to tap” — facilities that clean wastewater to drinking water quality. In Washington, D.C., local officials are producing renewable power from its wastewater by “pressure cooking” the solids left over at the end of the wastewater treatment process.
5) Wall Street is Becoming Water Aware
Devastating droughts in California, Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere, coupled with global trends of groundwater depletion and water quality degradation are motivating investors to become more water aware. Many are increasingly recognizing that the global water crisis is not only a social, but an economic, concern, and they’re moving their money to help tackle the crisis.
In little more than one year, for example, Ceres’ network of institutional investors focused on water has grown eight-fold, from a group of 10 investors managing $1 trillion in assets, to 80 investors with some $19 trillion in assets.
Today’s announcement by Ceres partner ACTIAM, a European asset manager with approximately $56 billion in assets, is an example of what investors are doing to lift all boats on water issues. ACTIAM has pledged to achieve a water neutral portfolio by 2030, meaning that it expects the companies in its investment portfolio to develop plans to consume no more water than nature can replenish and cause no more pollution than is acceptable for the health of humans and ecosystems.
6) Science-Based Water Reduction Targets are Picking Up Steam
If you’re curious whether companies’ water neutrality goals can actually result in meaningful water conservation, a consortium of NGOs, including the World Resources Institute (WRI), CDP and WWF have been working with companies on that score. They’re taking companies’ water neutrality, or balance goals, and helping them set science-based water reduction targets that reduce business risks while serving communities’ water needs. It’s the next wave of science-based targets for companies, following the campaign for science-based GHG emissions targets.
The World Resources Institute, for example, has been working with Mars Inc. to develop an approach for setting water targets informed by science, and measuring impacts and tracking performance over time. These targets take into account the latest science on the global carbon budget, water stress and other ecological limits.
About the Author
Brooke Barton is the Senior Program Director for the Water and Food Programs at Ceres, a nonprofit organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on global sustainability challenges. Connect with her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Ceres at http://www.ceres.org.