The Getty Center in Los Angeles, the campus of the Getty Museum and other Getty Trust programs, may be slightly less glamorous this summer, as the organization decided to turn off most of its fountains and drain most of its pools at both the Getty Center and Getty Villa locations.
“We think we’re doing the right thing, and we hope others will join us as well,” said Ron Hartwig, vice president of communications for the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Following Gov. Jerry Brown’s request to cut back on decorative water usage in late April, the Getty organization decided to take measures to conserve water in early May.
The National Drought Mitigation Center listed almost 33 percent of California as being in “exceptional drought” on June 17, and over 76 percent of the state in “extreme drought.”
The heat is drying up more than just the plants though.
$738 Million Lost
A University of California–Davis study of the economic impact of the drought in 2014 estimated that 410,000 acres are being fallowed, resulting in an estimated loss of $738 million in farm revenue.
The price of some California-grown foods, such as short-grained rice, have already gone up, and more agricultural products could too if this goes on much longer.
To keep the drought at bay, farmers have resorted to watering from wells to protect the agriculture industry, which supplies 50 percent of the country’s produce—a practice that is not sustainable in the long run.
Compounding the situation is the fact that snowfall and reservoirs are low this year, meaning California does not have the reserves it normally uses to fight such dry weather.
California relies on the Sierra Nevada’s for as much as 30 percent of its water supply. In April, the California Department of Water Resources found snowfall this winter was only 40 percent the historic average.
Gov. Brown has urged Californians to “conserve water in every way possible.”
Hartwig said the Getty is saving 2,500 gallons of water a day by reducing its decorative water usage. Only those that house plant or aquatic life are still operating.
While the Getty has made an effort to cut over 50 percent of its water consumption since it opened in 1997, Hartwig said, emptying its pools and fountains is not a long-term plan.
“We need water in Southern California, and that hopefully will come this fall and we’ll have a rainy season,” he said.