As California faces another year of drought, it’s a good time to review our personal practices and make a few tweaks to tighten up our own water usage. “A penny saved is a penny earned” definitely applies in a drought situation. Working together, our small changes can cumulatively result in big water savings in Sonoma County.
I’ve put together a few easy tips to get you started.
1. Fix that leaky toilet
Not sure if your toilet is functioning properly? Place a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. Allow it to sit. If, without flushing, the coloring begins to appear in the bowl, you have a leak that may be wasting many gallons of water daily.
2. Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket.
Toss that used tissue or face wipe in the wastebasket and save up to 5 gallons per flush. It’s better for the septic system too!
3. Enjoy shorter showers
Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rise off. Install a low-flow shower head if you haven’t already. Does your water take a long time to heat up? Keep a bucket handy and use that “warming up” water to give your garden a drink.
4. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
If seems obvious, but it’s important to avoid running water wastefully. Before brushing, wet your brush and fill a glass for rinsing your mouth. Use a cleaning wipe to spruce up the sink and vanity.
5. Turn off the water while shaving
Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of warm water in which to rinse your razor. You will be shocked at how much water you can save with such a small change.
6. Use your automatic dishwasher wisely
A dishwasher is actually a water-saving device when used prudently. Many dishwashers offer water-saving cycles. Check your owner’s manual to be sure you are using the best water-saving features your model offers.
7. Use your automatic washing machine only for full loads only
An average washing machine uses 30 to 35 gallons per cycle. Fill it up whenever possible. And again, check your owner’s manual to be sure you are using the best water-saving features from your model.
8. Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables
It seems obvious but remember to rinse your vegetables in a bowl or partially-filled sink instead of letting the faucet run.
9. When hand-washing dishes, rinse wisely
If you have two sinks, fill one with rinse water. If you have just one sink, rinse items briefly and in groups to use water more appropriately.
10. Water your lawn only when it needs it
Watering on a regular schedule doesn't allow for cool spells, or rainfall which reduce the need for watering. Watering in windy conditions can also be problematic. Consider trying a lawn app that, based on local weather conditions, advises the best time to water your lawn and garden.
11. Plant drought-resistant plants and mulch existing trees and plants
Check with your local nursery and discover many beautiful trees and plants that thrive without excessive irrigation. Existing plants appreciate a fresh application of mulch which slows the evaporation of moisture.
12. Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks, and steps
Don’t use a hose to clean sidewalks or driveways. Use a broom to keep the areas clear of debris and save hundreds of gallons of water.
Do you have water-saving tips that I haven’t mentioned? Please share your ideas for helping California through this water crisis—and beyond!