Alleviate Burden of Drought on the Poor


Target: John Laird, California Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency

Goal: Promote water conservation among communities with the highest water consumption

California is currently struggling with one of the worst droughts the state has ever seen. Since January 2014, when Governor Edmund Brown authorized state officials to prepare for severe water shortages, California has been in a state of emergency. Nevertheless, recent findings of a study by the University of California, Los Angeles show that the drought is hitting low-income communities harder than wealthier ones. Urge California’s government to focus conservation efforts in areas with the highest water consumption.

Wealthier communities of Los Angeles County used more water in 2013 than less affluent areas and scaled back their water use less during droughts. While residents of wealthier communities often have larger properties, which demand more water, they also ultimately have less of a financial incentive to scale back on water use. On the other hand, fines and increasing water bills pose a heavy burden on low-income households. In fact, residents of East Los Angeles used less than fifty gallons per day in September.

It’s important to note that many affluent households have demonstrated earnest efforts to take part in water conservation in the form of replacing their lawns with artificial grass or drought-tolerant plants. Nevertheless, as the latest state survey indicates, 12 percent of water districts failed to report their per-capita water consumption. This lack of data on the main marker of inequity only enables the disparity in water consumption to persist.

By signing the petition below, you can offer a powerful reminder of the true cost of failing to conserve this precious resource: inequity.


Dear Secretary Laird,

I am writing to bring your attention to the disproportionate burden of California’s severe drought on low-income communities. The most recent state survey indicates that 12 percent of water districts failed to report on their per-capita water consumption, a lack of data that only allows this disparity to persist.

Though many residents living in wealthier communities have opted for artificial lawns and drought-tolerant landscaping, one need only drive through a few neighborhoods in Beverly Hills to see that many properties’ lawns there are still lush and green.

I wish to recognize the recent efforts both in the public and private sector to alleviate the burden of drought on California’s poor. I also urge you to address this missing data on per-capita water consumption. Your leadership is essential to concentrating water conservation efforts among high-consumption communities and reducing the impact of drought on lower-income communities less equipped to handle it.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ildar Saldejev via Wikimedia Commons

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113 Signatures

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