Here in southern California we’re facing some pretty serious water issues. The water supply is pretty low, and they’re talking about restrictions this summer. But since many people in the area have been working hard to conserve already there’s a bit of a challenge in making sure that they aren’t punishing people who have already cut back and just can’t cut back more.
But even if that isn’t a problem in your area just now, cutting back is a good idea. The website Be Water Wise was created by the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, and the stats are for this area, but some of the water saving advice is good anywhere.
These are some of my favorite tips and how we implement them:
1. Water the lawns less.
Our front lawn gets very little water. It’s kind of unattractive, but I’ve come to see really green lawns as a luxury we really can’t afford. I’d love to see native plants replace the front lawn.
Our back lawn gets somewhat more water for the simple reason that it’s a pleasant place for the children to play. That’s important too. But it is not the lush green of a heavily watered lawn. It gets just enough to keep going, and that’s it.
2. Shorter/combined showers, low flow showerheads.
Shorter and combined showers can save a lot of money. Combined showers can also cause water waste, so you do have to think about what it is you’re doing in there, if you get my drift. Two people in a shower can use less than two showering separately if they make that choice.
The fact that my 4 year old likes to come and play in the shower ensures that things move pretty quickly for my husband and I.
I also keep my showers shorter by thinking about how often my hair really needs washing. That’s a personal preference, but you may be surprised at how you can train your hair to need a different level of care. Make changes slowly and you may be able to decrease how often you wash your own.
Similarly, my kids still choose to bathe together. I keep expecting my daughter to get modest any time now, but so far that hasn’t happened. For now we just enjoy the fact that we have to run only one bath for the two older kids. We don’t run it deep most times, so it won’t be the worst thing when they choose to separate.
Low flow showerheads are also a great idea. I actually don’t know if the normal settings on our current shower head are low flow or not (I suspect not), but I do know that the mist setting is good enough for showering with for the most part.
3. Capture water that would otherwise be wasted.
We have a bit of an unusual situation in our home. The water comes into the house in such a way that the kitchen sink gets steaming hot water coming out at first during warm weather. I mean that literally. It’s painful to the touch.
Rather than waste that water when we need cold water, we catch it in an old gallon jug. It is then used for watering plants.
It’s not much water, but I figure the gallons add up.
I’m still working on convincing my husband to capture water from heating the shower. That’s a bit tougher, as it’s more inconvenient. Harder to get the water to plants, plus a bucket would be underfoot. But the amount of water would be more significant.
4. Generally avoid bad water habits.
Some of the water saving tips we read about I’ve never had to worry about because they describe habits I haven’t had.
I’ve never tended to run water while brushing my teeth, for example. Never done that, never seen the point.
Same for washing down walkways and driveways with water instead of a broom. Honestly I don’t clean them off often anyhow, but I just can’t see using water to do that. Sweeping isn’t that hard.
What are your favorite water saving habits?
Like you pointed out, water shortage is a growing problem in USA. Here in Southern California the fresh water levels have gone down significantly since July 2006. The water shortage is not going to improve unless Southern Californians collectively change their actions. There are dozens of little things we can all do to save water and combat the water shortage situation we are facing in Southern California. If you go to http://www.bewaterwise.com/tips01.html you will see a water saving tips page that lists Indoor and Outdoor tips and how much water is saved with each one. You would be amazed at how simple these actions are yet how impactful they can be. Things like turning off the water when you brush your teeth can save 3 gallons per day, taking shorter showers saves 5 gallons a day, and installing a smart sprinkler controller saves 40 gallons per day! Check out all the tips on the site and pass it on to fellow Southern Californians!