Tag Archives: california

Are You Being Water Wise?

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?

Green Propositions in California Are Frustrating!

California is great for going green in a lot of ways. Lots of sunshine for those who want solar power. Often good incentives for it too. Curbside recycling in many areas.

Unfortunately, the statewide propositions we have to consider aren’t so great.

I have a love/hate thing for the system of state propositions. On the one hand, it means the votes can decide on things the legislature isn’t going to bother with. There’s a more direct say.

On the other hand, some propositions end up really being on things the legislature should have taken care of, because they require so much research to make an intelligent decision on.

The two big ones are Prop 7 and Prop 10.

It pains me to be against Prop 7. It really does. But I see its goals as unrealistic. I’d love to be able to meet those goals, but generating 20% of the energy created by government owned utilities from renewable sources by 2010 strikes me as highly unrealistic. It’s nearly the end of 2008, after all! Add in that opponents include the Sierra Club, the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party, as well as many other groups.

But does it ever hurt to oppose it. I love the idea! Especially since the goals keep increasing. But I worry about the potential impact on smaller companies, and how we develop our use of renewable energy sources. This looks too likely to be a solution that will slow progress down, not speed it up.

When my family got together to discuss the propositions, we at first thought Prop 10 sounded good. But my mother works for the state and while she doesn’t deal with the budget in her job (she’s in worker’s comp), she certainly feels the pinch when the state can’t settle on a budget and stops paying for a time. For those of you out of state, that’s happened a lot of years lately. They get the back pay eventually, but it’s a pain.

She always gets mad when they say a bond issue won’t increase taxes. It won’t that year, but how exactly do people expect the bonds to be paid back?

Opponents also say this is mostly to fund natural gas vehicles. Not nearly so much hybrids, electric cars and so forth. These vehicles don’t even necessarily pollute less than regular ones!

As you can imagine, being against these two nominally environmental propositions is really hard for me. It would be so much nicer to have something that could be supported as a step in the right direction, even if it weren’t perfect. These two are so far beyond perfect I can’t support them.

Water: A California Story at San Diego Natural History Museum

I think by the title you can guess where we went this weekend. My mother heard about the water exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum on the news and figured it would be a great experience for the kids.

As it turned out, the display was mostly so-so for bringing a 6 year old and a 3 year old along. Most of it was too old for them, although probably great for older elementary school age kids. But they weren’t into many of the exhibits at all. The mist entryway they enjoyed, and the 3 stages of water that they could play with were fun, but that was about it for them.

Which meant I had little time to read up on the parts that interested me.

The kids did kind of enjoy the model of the carousel water pump that some communities in Africa have now. The idea behind these is that the children play on the carousel, causing it to pump water for the community.

If you are in the area and want to learn more about water conservation, this was a good exhibit. Not much new for me that I had the chance to read at least, but my opinion might be different if I had had a better chance to go through at my own pace. So take the older kids, but not younger ones unless you want to be a bit rushed.