El Niño isn’t a cure for California’s drought

San Francisco recently experienced nearly two straight weeks of rainy weather thanks to El Niño, which was enough to make some people forget about one of the largest issues still facing California – the devastating and ever-mounting drought.

When a relatively large storm rolls in and engulfs the city in a dense, gloomy haze of wetness, it’s logical to focus on the immediate effects. It can make daily activities such as commuting to work or going to the grocery store feel like more of a pain. More dramatic storms can cause minor flooding or power outages that lead to street closures and other inconveniences.

With all this rain pouring down, it’s hard for people to imagine the drought is still a pervasive issue, and it’s easy to assume a few weeks’ worth of downpour is the savior an increasingly arid California has been waiting for.

However, following this logic is incredibly flawed and will only lead to more damaging mentalities.

The drought didn’t just appear from nowhere — it has been gradually building up and worsening in California over years until it reached the point we’re at now, and it can’t be reversed with a few weeks of precipitation.

Californians have only recently begun to accept the idea of utilizing water conservation techniques or devices in their daily lives after extensive regulations and conservation mandates were brought forth by the State Water Resources Control Board and Governor Jerry Brown last year. These efforts are finally beginning to have an impact, but all that effort could be for nothing.

If Californians let their guards down after a bit of rain and fall into the trap of believing that it won’t matter if they stop worrying about conserving as much water as they can, all the progress and effort that they have made thus far could be squandered entirely.

In the case of the drought, every small, seemingly insignificant action such as turning the sink off while you brush your teeth or swapping out water-craving plants for succulents makes all the difference. We all have a responsibility as residents of this state to do what we can to help out, even if it seems needless in the moment.

Just because an El Niño storm comes barreling through California doesn’t mean that it’s okay to automatically assume there isn’t a more outstanding issue at play. It is perfectly okay, however, to be thankful our state is getting any rain at all. It’s okay to see the rainy weather outside your window and feel optimistic that one day, even if it’s farther down the line, we may be able to reverse the damaging effects of the drought plaguing our state today.