Brown is the new green

Another California summer has passed. The weather is cooling, clouds are beginning to roll in and I can’t help but feel that winter is now upon us.

It is a cool day outside with a winter breeze blowing and clouds blocking out the sun. But looking at all the lawns still golden in color and no green grass on any neighbor’s yards I am reminded of how bad a drought we have had this summer.

This year was the third driest year on record for California, and the state’s water reservoirs are at all-time lows. San Francisco had the lowest rain recorded since 1849 according to an article by USA Today.

According to a U.S. Drought Moniter report, 99 percent of California’s land is “abnormally dry or worse.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown announced a statewide drought emergency. New regulations restrict water use, and $500 fines for excessive use have been established.

“We ought to be ready for a long, continuous, persistent effort,” Brown said according “I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has it’s limit.”

The climate in California is also changing, creating warmer temperature which lead to increases in forest fires. These fires have been running wild in northern and southern California, and with water in short supply it has had a huge affect not only on our ecosystem but also on our economy.

According to, farmers are paying up to ten times more for  water than they did before the drought. How many hundreds of acres of farmland have remained unplanted this year and how many agricultural jobs were lost due to the lack of water?  While the statistics aren’t yet available, farms have been hit hard.

So what have you done this year to do your part and help save water? Have you been taking shorter showers, stopped watering your yard, washing your car less often or stopped running the faucets while you brush your teeth?

We are all aware of the situation but the question remains: have we all done all we can to help save water and will we continue to do it?

California has the nickname “The Golden State” because all our hills in the area are yellow. So if we are known to have dry hills why do we try so hard to maintain that perfect green grass in our front yards every year?

Most parks are beginning to use “recycled” water to irrigate their grass but citizens are wasting drinking water to water their yards. This year the state engaged in a campaign to convince its citizens that “Brown is the New Green.”

Many people made the sacrifice to watch their yards slowly die in the scorching sun. I think it is time Californians realize that maintaining a bright green yard is a battle we no longer need to wage against the elements.

In Arizona, which is almost completely a desert, residents know how much water grass wastes so they do not even try to have green yards. Instead they settle for rocks and drought-resistant plants. If you must have a green yard many companies offer artificial grass that also takes no water.

It is time that we embrace our brown or grassless yards as a badge of honor to show we take conservation seriously and don’t take valuable water granted.

The unfortunate thing is that this extreme drought may only foreshadow what is to come. Only time will tell but in the meantime we all need to continue to do our part and be prepared to fight water shortages for a long time to come.

Brown is the new green. Embrace it.