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Water Conservation in a Drought

With the approach of summer 2015, we enter the fourth consecutive year of drought in California. An unprecedented executive order issued by Governor Jerry Brown in late March calls for residents across the state to conserve water in every way possible.

The water conservation order comes following the lowest snowpack in the Sierra mountain range ever recorded. Dry, brown grass was visible in the mountains this spring where five feet of snow is usually seen.

Governor Brown is asking for Californians to band together and reduce their water consumption by 25 percent. If everyone does their part, the state can save about 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.

How to Conserve Water at Home

You can make small changes every day to help reduce your water use by Governor Brown's requested 25 percent. Combine as many of these ideas as possible to ensure you're doing your part:

  • Limit lawn watering to twice per week. It's a state rule that can save 750 to 1,500 gallons per month. Make sure to water in the early morning or late evening and turn off the sprinklers if it's raining. Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water your landscape.
  • Plant drought-tolerant grass and plants. To reduce evaporation, lay mulch over any exposed soil and cut your grass to a slightly longer length.
  • Wash your car with a bucket of water and a sponge. This is much more efficient than using a hose or going to a commercial car wash.
  • Invest in a high-efficiency clothes washer, which can save over 10,000 gallons per year. Governor Brown wants to create a temporary consumer rebate program to encourage Californians to replace old appliances with water-conserving models.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full. Avoid pre-rinsing dishes if you know your dishwasher can handle removing stuck on food. Instead, simply scrape food into the sink. When doing dishes by hand, fill one side of the sink with wash water and the other with rinse water to avoid leaving the tap open.
  • Install low-flow showerheads that use 2.5 gallons per minute or less. Then shorten your showers by one minute to save about 750 gallons per month.
  • Check faucets, toilets, showerheads and pipes for leaks. Fix any you find right away to save up to 20 gallons per day.
  • Limit the amount you flush the toilet. First, don't use it as a trash can or ashtray. Second, follow the saying, "If it's yellow, let it mellow," especially if you live alone.

Water Conservation at the Commercial Level

Brown isn't just asking homeowners to conserve water; he's also demanding changes at the commercial and government levels. His water conservation order calls for the following:

  • Replace 50 million square feet of turf grass in the state with drought-tolerant landscaping.
  • Require cemeteries, golf courses and other turf grass areas to significantly cut water use.
  • Forbid new homes from being built with potable water irrigation systems until they use efficient drip irrigation.
  • Prohibit the watering of ornamental grass on medians.
  • Ban restaurants from offering water unless customers ask.
  • Require hotels to offer guests a chance to not have towels and sheets washed every night during their stay.
  • Update standards on outdoor landscaping in residential communities and take legal action against those who ignore the standards.

Water conservation during California's historic drought is easier than you think. A little here and a little there really adds up, especially with millions of people on board. For more water conservation tips, or for help implementing the suggestions here, please contact Mr. Rooter® today.


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