Top 5 Actions
Many areas around the world are trying to deal with the low rainfall levels experienced this year. The state of California is currently facing a widespread water shortage, that hasn’t been this severe in about 500 years according to a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
By the year 2020, legislation mandates residents of California decrease H2O utilization by 20 percent. Most families in the United States utilize approximately 400 gallons of water daily. A large portion of the water consumed (about 60 percent) is for lawn maintenance and filling swimming pools and hot tubs in California according to Rea Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. As a result, the best area to initiate reduced water consumption would be the state’s outdoor use.
Indoor water usage must also be reviewed and Gonzalez has some suggestions for money-saving practices to help California residents conserve water in their homes. These tips are much easier than initiating a large group of friends and family to pray for rain.
1. Decrease outside water usage. According to Gonzalez, the majority of water consumption in residential areas is outdoor consumption. The best way to save H2O at a residence is to water lawns between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (early morning hours are best) in small intervals.
Watering lawns during these hours allows water to be absorbed by lawn and plants effectively because there is little chance the water will evaporate in the sun’s heat. Hydrating lawns in small intervals gives the water an opportunity to seep into the soil and absorb. A good way to water lawns would be to water the lawn for a five minute interval, followed by allowing to water to absorb for 10 minutes and then repeat.
2. Make sure sprinklers are not damaged or clogged. It is important that sprinkler nozzles are not pointed at the driveway or sidewalk; they should always be pointed at grass and shrubbery.
Another large water waster can be leaks in your irrigation system. Fix irrigation system leaks quickly and check for water in the gutters or mud puddles. Inspect your sprinklers and drip sprayers regularly for leaks during the daytime since the optimal time to water is in the nighttime hours when you cannot observe leaks. If you have an older irrigation system, over 50% and even more than 75% of the water can be lost to leaks. Learn more about irrigation systems…
3. Repair any and all leaks in pipes and fixtures. Faucets, showerheads and toilets should be checked regularly for leaks. Any leaks found should be corrected immediately. An aerator can be installed to reduce water volume without affecting the actual water pressure. A toilet with a leak can cause a loss of about 200 gallons of water daily. Make sure all leaks (no matter how big or small) are repaired quickly.
Many silent leaks allow water and your money to go down the drain. To help detect unseen leaks go to Read Your Meter. Studies have shown homes can waste more than 10% due leaking, which costs both you and the environment.
4. Invest in water saving toilets and efficient washing machines and install water-saving mechanisms.
If your home was built before 1992 and the toilet has never been replaced, then it is very likely that you do not have a water efficient 1.6 gallon per flush toilet. You can check the date stamp inside the toilet by lifting the lid and looking at the back of the toilet at the manufacturer’s imprint of the make, model and date of manufacture.
Energy Star™ rated washers that also have a Water Factor at or lower than 9.5, use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load. This saves you money on both your water and energy bills. There is a current qualifying products listing of water efficient clothes washer models maintained by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.
Most local water agencies give discounts to help reduce the cost of switching to efficient and money-saving appliances. The amount discounted varies by city and county, so it is important you contact the local agency in your area. Below is a sample of the discounts offered in Los Angeles by the Department of Public Works (LADPW):
- Sprinkler head (high-efficiency): $4
- High-efficiency clothes washer: $100
- Smart water controller: $100
5. Replace the lawn with low-maintenance plants. Whether you are putting in a new landscape or slowly changing the current landscaping at your home, select plants that are appropriate for your local climate conditions. Having yard with 100% lawn turf area in a dry desert climate uses significant amounts of water. Also consider the trend towards Xeriscape™ and a more natural landscape or wildscape.
Many local water agencies also provide discounts and refunds for alleviating lawns. The LADPW gives residents $1 per square foot of lawn removed and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will give $2 per square foot of lawn replaced according to Rea Gonzalez of the LADPW.