Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our Long Drought: Making Every Drop Count

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Andrew Vargas under CC BY 2.0 license

In parts one and two, we looked at facts vs. myths in the big picture of the drought and analyzed where savings could be found. This time, we'll look at the ways urban (residential and industrial users) users can achieve that magical 25% cut in their water.

First, though, we must look at the fairness of this.

Not everyone in California has been letting the water run like there's no tomorrow. We've had droughts before and many, many long time residents have taken that to heart and cut their water use a long time ago. When we first moved into our house, we showed the sewer district that our water was at least 20% less than the average for our area and got a discount on our fees. We've lessened our water use by 30-50% depending on the time of the years for the last five years.

Now, us, and people like us are being asked to cut another 25%...same as the big water wasters. There's some big debates going on about the fairness of Governor Brown's mandatory cuts.

In the meantime, here are some things people can do to cut their water use...

Install a shut-off valve in the shower - Get wet, turn off the water, soap up, turn it back on to rinse to save a few gallons each time you wash.

Install a low flow toilet - The overwhelming majority of Californians already have one. You can also put a few bricks in the water tank for displacement so that not as much water is needed to shut off the valve.

Install drip irrigation and timers - This is easy to do and inexpensive. It also has the added benefit of freeing up some time when you no longer have to water the plants manually. See our "Poor Man's Sprinkler System' for more details.

Sweep - Don't hose down pavement.

Cut back on car washes - It's not a good thing to never wash your car but lessen the frequency and use a car wash that recycles water or use a hose with a trigger sprayer that you can turn off between soaping up and rinsing in your driveway.

Cut water runoff - adjust your sprinkler spray patterns so that you're only watering the plants...not the sidewalk and street.

Let it mellow - An old saying from our 70's drought, "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down." Don't flush the toilet so much.

Turn it off - turn off the water while brushing teeth and shaving until you need to rinse.

Look for drought tolerant and low-water plants - your nursery can help you get plants that don't need too much water, like my roses that hardly take any at all or a grapevine (we'll delve into this in more detail in a future post).

Those are a few, got any more you'd like to add? Leave them in the comments below or at our Facebook page - The Cheapskate Urban Gardener. We'll add the best ones here.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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