California is currently experiencing its third dry year in a row, leading to a major drought that has significantly impacted all areas of the state, including Santa Barbara County.
Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara’s main water source, is at extremely low levels, having lowered by 50 feet over the last 2 years, exposing barren mudflats. As the Los Angeles Times recently observed, “Cachuma Lake, the source of drinking water for 200,000 people on the southern coast of Santa Barbara County, is disappearing.”
Although we must always be conscious of our water use, especially in Southern California, now is a particularly important time to adopt good environmental and water conservation practices. You’ll be surprised how very simple actions can save gallons and gallons of water!
8 Easy Tips to Begin Conserving Water Today
1. Don’t let any faucet or hose run unnecessarily.
By letting the faucet run when rinsing dishes, brushing your teeth, washing vegetables, etc., you are literally letting good, clean water ‘down the drain.’ Stop the flow! Only let it run when you absolutely need to. In order to minimize water use even more, collect water in a tub or a pan when washing dishes, cleaning fruit, or thawing meat.
2. Time your showers.
By taking shorter showers, you can save hugely on water use in your home. Set a timer outside the shower that forces you to get out! By shortening your shower by 1-2 minutes, you can save up to 150 gallons per month!
3. Watch for leaks and drips in your home, apartment, yard, etc.
A leaky faucet, hose, or pipe that drips every second can add up to an extra five gallons of water use a day. Watch for leaks, check your showerhead and faucets, test your toilet, and don’t forget to examine hoses and pipes outside as well.
4. Only do full loads of dishes or laundry.
Don’t waste a full wash cycle on a load that is only half full. Fill that machine up! Bonus points if you wash with cold water as much as possible, since heating up water takes extra energy.
5. Water your lawn and plants only when they need it – and early in the day.
First, we’d recommend drought tolerant gardens filled with the likes of succulents and other low-water intensive plants as opposed to a lawn. But if you do have a lawn, water less frequently and only during the early parts of the day in order to reduce loss of water due to evaporation. Water houseplants with the water that you used to wash your veggies!
For water-wise landscaping tips in Santa Barbara, and even some rebates, click here!
6. Compost and use organic mulch.
By composting organic waste, you can save water in several ways. Using the garbage disposal to chop up and flush down organic material takes extra water to get the job done. By putting this organic matter in a compost bin instead, you save water inside the house as well as outside: compost in flower-beds, gardens and potted plants has an increased ability to retain water. Healthy soil equals less water usage, fewer weeds, and happier plants!
7. Use a reusable water bottle.
By re-filling the same water bottle throughout the day, you use fewer glasses or cups what would otherwise need to be washed. And of course, you automatically cut down on the use of plastic water bottles and the energy used to produce them. Ditch plastic…it’s good for you and the environment.
8. Monitor your water bill.
Keep track of your water use each month! Spotting unusually high water usage is the first step in figuring out where and how to reduce your use. A little sleuthing can go a long way.
Watch your water, and see how your water usage stacks up!
For additional water conservation tips, including some of the ones that were used here, click here.
For a list of local resources in Santa Barbara, click here.