According to the California Department of Water Resources, 2013 was recorded as the driest year in California history, and 2014 does not offer any relief in sight. The majority of California is classified as in severe drought condition or higher, and Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought state of emergency.
As reported in the news, 17 rural communities are in danger of running out of water within 60-120 days and the State Water Project, the main municipal distribution system, announced for the first time in 54 years that it did not have enough water to distribute to local agencies. Homeowners and businesses have already been asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20%, with mandatory conservation measure becoming more likely as the situation worsens.
A typical household may use up to 260 gallons a day, but with proper measures, Californians can bring that number down. Some simple steps we can all take that can significantly reduce water usage include:
- Repairing leaky faucets and toilets. On average ten gallons of water per day is lost through leaks.
- Using a low flow showerhead, which can save 15 gallons of water per shower.
- Using machines to wash items. Hand washing dishes and clothes is less water efficient than machine washing. A standard washing machine uses about 6 gallons per wash while hand washing uses about 20 gallons.
- Replacing traditional suburban lawns with greenscape lawns can greatly reduce water usage. Nearly 60% of household water usage is in lawn and garden maintenance.
- Replacing top loading washers with front loading washers can save 20 gallons per load.