The drought is here and it is now in its fourth year. As a result, Governor Jerry Brown issued a first-of-its-kind water restriction mandate that asked for the state to reduce its water usage by 25 percent. Since then, residents throughout the state and the water agencies that serve them have been doing their best to cut back on their water usage. Most agencies have already adopted guidelines to help people save as much water as possible. This is why we have published “Tips for Surviving the Drought in Sacramento” to hopefully help residents struggling with reducing their water usage while also complying with the enforced reductions required by the various water agencies.
The problem is that there is no one set of rules as each area has been divided into tiers and each of these tiers has a different amount of water they are required save. The formula used to decide which city and county falls into which tier is a little complicated, but if you want to know how much water your area is required to save, just contact your water provider. Of course, there are 27 different water agencies for the Sacramento area, so it can become a little confusing. If you are not sure who your provider is, you can go to the Regional Water Authority website and they have a list of the providers in the Sacramento area. Just click this link: http://www.rwah2o.org/rwa/programs/wep/contacts/. Your local provider will give you all the information and guidelines you will need to conserve water.
Though there are many different water agencies, many have very similar restrictions and most of these include major restrictions, specifically for outside water use such as watering or irrigating your lawn and landscaping. The agencies are also very concerned about classic water-wasting activities such as hosing down sidewalks and running a hose that doesn’t have a shutoff valve on it. The Sacramento County Water Agency, for example, has issued the following restrictions:
SCWA DROUGHT WATERING RESTRICTIONS:
- Irrigation of outdoor landscaping that results in the runoff of potable water onto non-irrigated areas such as walkways and roadways is prohibited.
- The use of potable water to wash driveways and sidewalks has been prohibited.
- Residents cannot run potable water in a fountain or other decorative feature.
- Outdoor watering using potable water cannot be done within 48 hours after a measurable rain.
- The use of potable water for a residential and/or charity car wash fundraiser is prohibited.
- Homes with addresses ending in even numbers can only water their lawn with a sprinkler on Sundays and they can use drip irrigation for their trees and shrubs on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Homes with addresses ending in odd numbers can water their lawns on Saturdays and drip-irrigate their trees and shrubs on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. However, it should be noted that no watering of any kind may be done between 6AM and 8PM no matter what day of the week it is.
In addition to these outdoor watering restrictions, eating and drinking establishments can only serve water upon request and motels and hotels are required to provide guests with the opportunity to not have their linens and towels washed every day. These last two have been widely used throughout the state for a while now. Again, these restrictions we just listed are for customers of Sacramento County Water Agency. To locate your water provider in the Sacramento area, click the link at the top of this article. Or, for more complete general information about the drought, go to the Regional Water Authority website at: www.rwah2o.org.
So, what can you do to save water? Actually, there are lots of ways to save water, not just inside your home but outside as well.
WATER SAVING TIPS FOR INSIDE THE HOME:
- Installing aerators on your bathroom faucets can save 1.2 gallons per person per day.
- Turning off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving can save 10 gallons of water per person per day.
- Filling the bathtub only halfway or less saves 12 gallons per person.
- Make sure you fix those leaky toilets! They can be responsible for losing 30-50 gallons per day per toilet.
- Speaking of toilets, consider installing a high-efficiency toilet.
- Make sure you only wash full loads of clothes. That goes for dishwashers as well.
- Install a water-efficient shower head. That could save up to 10 gallons per every 10-minute shower.
WATER SAVING TIPS FOR OUTSIDE THE HOME:
- Check your sprinklers monthly. This means examine them for clogs, leaks and even misdirected spraying i.e. watering the sidewalk. Also, check to see how long it takes for the water to begin to runoff onto areas like the sidewalk and then adjust your running time or timer accordingly.
- Water early in the morning or late in the evening when the water is less likely to evaporate.
- Mulch! Mulch has been described as the “icing on the cake” because it keeps the soil moist by slowing evaporation.
- Leave your grass longer than usual. That doesn’t mean messy-looking, just taller. Taller grass promotes a deeper, more extensive root system that will reduce evaporation and help with increased drought tolerance.
- Make sure you aren’t watering too much by using the screwdriver test. If you think you need to water, stick a screwdriver into the ground. If it goes more than three inches deep, then you don’t need to water.
- Depending on your water situation and how often you are actually allowed to water, you should remember one word: prioritize. That means trees and shrubs that have taken years to grow should get priority over your lawn.
- Consider gray water. Yes, that water from your tub and shower can be used to water the plants. Either use a bucket to collect it or consider installing a gray water system.
This may seem like a lot to do just to save your lawn, but remember that most water agencies will not only be monitoring water usage, they can and will levy fines. Some of those fines may be as much as $500, so you may want to take those extra steps. For more landscape survival tips, go to: www.bewatersmart.info. And, finally, if you don’t think it will be worth the effort or you don’t have much more than grass growing, you may consider xeriscaping. What is xeriscaping you ask? Xeriscaping is landscaping or gardening that reduces or even eliminates the need for irrigation. That might mean pulling up your grass and putting a big Zen garden full of rocks and native plant species that might not require as much water as other plants you may be growing. A great location to find lots of helpful native plant information is the California Native Plant Society’s website located at: www.cnps.org. You may even get a rebate as some areas have what are known as “Cash for Grass” programs. The idea is simple: You pull up your grass, you get a rebate. You may also get a rebate for installing water-efficient appliances. And speaking of appliances…
It’s time to talk water heaters. A water heater that is functioning normally is not going to waste any water since the homeowner or renter is directly responsible for how much water is used. That only changes when it has sprung a leak. So, the first water-saving thing to do is check to make sure that your water heater isn’t leaking. If you see that it is leaking, you can call us for service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (916) 448-2113. If you would like to shut off the water to the water heater and need help, we are happy to assist you over the phone while we set up your appointment. Or you can visit our page that explains what to do by clicking here: http://waterheaters-sacramento.com/shutdown-instructions/
Make sure to inspect your water heater very closely. If you don’t immediately see water leaking from the water heater, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no leak. That means you should inspect underneath your water heater (if possible) and look closely for condensation on the top and along the sides of the water heater. Leaks may be big or small, but they all will definitely cause you to use more water than normal and might even be the cause of damage to the surrounding area. One way to help minimize water damage and the wasting of water in general is to use a water leak sensor. These sensors are not very big or expensive and they work like a water alarm. If it senses water leaking, it will emit a sound much like a smoke alarm. While this may not help you if you are out of town, they can be very helpful if you hear it go off in the middle of the night.
One final suggestion is to install a Taco circulation pump. The circulation pump is designed to eliminate waiting for hot water, which, in turn, will save you water. Basically, once you have had the Taco system installed, you simply push the button to turn it on and wait a minute or two for the hot water to reach your shower or sink before you turn on the faucet. This means that cold water will not go down the drain as you wait to take your shower. It also means no more using a bucket to collect the water that runs before the hot water arrives. If you would like to find out more about these circulation systems, we would be happy to schedule a time to come out to your home and tell you what we can do for you. Just call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (916) 448-2113. Well, we hope you have found our tips for surviving the drought in Sacramento helpful. So, until next time, be water smart and don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions you might have about your water heater or the installation of a re-circulating system.