If you have kept up with my posts, you know that California is in the 4th year of a severe drought. The photo above shows one of our Sacramento County parks already very dry as of June 1st. There is no relief in sight, as there is very little snow left in the Sierra Nevada mountains to melt into the rivers and lakes.
Although citizens can water their yards on a very limited basis, many have chosen (rightly) not to water at all. Sadly, stately trees are suffering and dying from lack of water as shown in the photo on the right. While grass and lawns are easily replaced, trees are not. Trees shade our homes and yards from the very hot summers we experience in the Central Valley of Northern California. The water districts do not discourage providing limited water for trees.
I experienced my first serious drought in San Diego in 1976. I remember the newspaper published a large poster of water-saving tips that we pinned up in the garage. As a teenager, these tips stuck with me, even when I moved to Northern California a few years later.
But I was appalled at the way people up here “used” water. After years spent sweeping my walkway and driveway, my jaw dropped the first time I saw people hosing off their driveways to clean it. The urge to yell “get a broom” is still there!
Driving home one night through my neighborhood last Fall, I saw a disturbing sight. Someone was watering his driveway but doing so hiding behind his tree in the dark. This time, I rolled my window down and yelled, “I see you, idiot!”
Every week the local news reports how “water watchers” are ratting out their fellow neighbors and businesses who are wasting water.
There have been rumors that water will be restricted. A question on the California American Water website asks: “How many gallons per person per day can I use?”
California American Water has chosen not to implement a gallon per-person per-day plan, but rather a reduction based off of percentages.
But if percentages are not met, many feel that there may be restrictions of this magnitude.
During this drought, we all want to do the right thing by conserving water. Even if you live in a part of the world that is not experiencing drought conditions, learning to conserve water is a good thing to know.
Here are some water saving tips to live by:
In your yard:
1. Use a broom or rake instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. SAVE: 150 gallons each time you sweep or rake.
2. Adjust sprinklers so they don’t water the pavement, sidewalks, driveway or gutter. SAVE: 500 gallons a month.
3. Follow the rules of your water provider for watering your yard. Water only when your lawn needs it or not at all. Be sure to give a little water to trees.
4. Change out grass for rocks or for drought resistant plants. Many utility departments offer incentives and rebates for this.
5. Use the self-serve car wash for vehicles, or have it professionally washed. Better yet, don’t wash your car.
In your home, kitchen and bathroom:
6. Install water-saving shower heads, flow restrictors and high-efficiency toilets. SAVE: 500 to 800 gallons a month. A variety of rebates are available for water-saving devices.
7. Regularly check your toilet, faucets, and pipes for leaks by using a leak detection kit (check with your provider). If you find a leak, fix it as soon as possible. SAVE: 20 gallons a day for every leak.
8. Keep showers to 10 minutes or less. SAVE: 700 gallons a month.
9. Dog needs a bath? Shower with your dog (if possible).
10. Don’t let the water run while shaving and brushing teeth.
11. Don’t use your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. SAVE: 400 to 800 gallons a month.
12. Restrict flushing the toilet as much as possible (some flush only after “number two”).
13. While waiting for hot water in the kitchen or shower, capture running tap water in a bucket or container for later use on household plants or in your garden. SAVE: 200 to 300 gallons a month.
14. If washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run.
15. Run only full loads in the washing machine or dishwasher. SAVE: 300 to 800 gallons a month.
Stats provided by California American Water. Some tips provided by my friend who lives in Southern California.
By using these water saving tips, we can not only do our part to conserve water, but we can instill good habits in our children and families.
This photo was submitted for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ One Word Photo Challenge–the seasons. This week’s challenge is “dry.” Please feel free to join any time.
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