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Image by Fiona Smallwood


California is no stranger to drought; it is a recurring feature of our climate. We recently experienced the 5-year event of 2012-2016, and other notable historical droughts included 2007-09, 1987-92, 1976-77, and off-and-on dry conditions spanning more than a decade in the 1920s and 1930s.


Storage, whether in surface water reservoirs or in groundwater basins, buffers the impacts of droughts. A single dry year isn’t a drought for most Californians because of the state’s extensive system of water infrastructure and groundwater resources. However, severe drought can increase the risks of other disasters such as a wildfire, landslide, or flash flood. Since California’s water supply is scarce, we all need to do our part to become more efficient in our water use.

  • Water conservation is essential in preparing for current drought conditions. Orange County residents can practice water conservation by reducing the amount of water used indoors and outdoors.

  • Don't let that extra water go to waste: instead of letting it pour down the drain, consider using it to water your indoor plants or garden. 

  • Keep an eye out for leaky faucets: just one drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water a year.

  • Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient: your bills will be lower as well as your footprint!

  • Don't let your dollars flush down the drain: consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models. Many water districts offer rebates for switching over to newer models.

  • Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, your plants won't need as much watering. Group plants together based on similar water needs. You may be surprised at how colorful your garden can be!

  • The sidewalk isn't thirsty: remember to position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas! 

  • Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs and flowers.

  • Your plants like the shade as much as you do! Use mulch around trees and plants to retain moisture in the soil and help stop evaporation. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with plants for water.

Image by Kevin
Water Conservation

Learn more:

  • Check out residential and commercial water resources at OC Water Smart from Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC).

  • Help your landscape survive the drought with gardening tips from The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s site Be Water Wise.

  • Have your children contribute to your family’s conservation efforts in a fun way by visiting OC Water Hero.

  • Get the facts about California’s drought along with conservation tips and more from the statewide program Save Our Water.

  • Find a list of ways to conserve water indoors and outdoors at’s Drought section.

  • Take a look at American Red Cross’ About Drought page to learn about the different types of drought. 

  • Review current drought conditions at the U.S. Drought Monitor.

  • For updated news and tips on our drought, visit the state’s site.

  • Check out the impacts of California’s drought and numerous maps of its status at USGS California Water Science Center site.

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