After many months of being in an exceptional drought condition, the county of the state I live in made it to extreme drought which is better. As of April 1, 2008 we were still listed at extreme on the US drought monitor but I think having rain every day for 6 days after that may put us into the severe category. It's odd to be excited about making it to extreme and thrilled if we make it to severe. Not so long ago, severe drought sounded bad. However, after over a half a year (I think I have that right) in the exceptional category, it's all relative.
It's certainly sobering to open the newspaper day after day and read how many days worth of water are left, if there wasn't any rain, and to go week after week with no rain. Until this week we were on Stage 2 restrictions which included no city water being used to water outside, no car washing at home, no new or drained pools could be filled. The recent rain has been sufficient to switch us back to stage 1 restrictions which means we can water outside once a week (staggered by address), cars can be washed at home on certain days, and I assume pools can be filled since that's not listed on the stage 1 list.
Perhaps my biggest concern has been over the birds. For some time, long before the restrictions, I have only watered outside with water collected under the gutters into barrels I have strategically located. I also have large and small open containers which get replenished with rain and serve as bird baths. The concern I had with the tightest restrictions was what to do if we got no rain and the wild birds had no water. I realize they could go to lakes and ponds that have some water. However, so many birds nest in my bushes, and nesting boxes, and do depend on water nearby which I have made available to them all these years. Fortunately, recent rains and changes in restrictions, for now, should take care of the birds.I am glad that my city is putting permanent conservation measures into place so that even if the drought conditions improve, it won't go back to business as usual. One of the nifty tools that my city has online is a water consumption calculator. You can use the calculator to figure out how much water your household consumes. That was an eye opener for me. I am trying to be frugal with water. I've started collecting water I run while it's getting warm for a shower, or even when washing my hands. That makes me realize how much I've wasted in the past when I see how much I can collect.
In the past we have frequently had a month or so in the summer where people could only water every other day but it's always gone back to the restrictions being lifted. This was the first time we had to have increasingly stringent restrictions on through the winter. I am glad that the city realizes that even as we start to pull out of the worse part of the drought, for now, that it will be necessary to implement permanent restrictions. Common sense never seems to be enough.
I took the photograph of the dried up creek bed several days ago after we had rain six days in a row. The fact that there is no water to speak of in the creek, even after the most rain we've had in probably 8 months said something to me. However, the moss looks happy and the periwinkle healthy so there are some signs of the good the rain is doing. All of the photographs in this post were taken from my yard except for the one of the dried up creek which is off one of the trails I walk on near my house. Speaking of walking. I am on day 33 of my latest effort to walk regularly. I have walked 26 days out of the past 33 days, and I got alternate exercise on 2 more. Therefore, I've had some kind of exercise for 28 of the past 33 days. Can you tell I'm pleased? Well, I am.