Without any measurable rainfall in the immediate future, Kern County will likely face a serious water shortage this summer.

We're on pace to break the record for the lowest Kern River water flow since we've been measuring it. According to the state Department of Water Resources, that flow could be as low as 17 percent of normal. We're now at 20 percent, which is already dismal.

Which brings us to our responsibility as citizens: We're going to have to diligently conserve. Municipal water for drinking, bathing and lawn irrigation is one thing, but the Kern River also powers our agriculture industry, which powers a huge chunk of our economy.

Local government officials should begin offering guidelines to help us reduce our water usage and conserve water where we can. If we can't -- or won't -- do it on our own, it will be left to the city and county to take action, which could include limited rationing.