Ways Californians can reduce water consumption during drought

Justin Ray | Staff Writer | Los Angeles Times

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, June 16. I’m Justin Ray.

The water crisis is causing lawmakers and residents to make hard choices.

Nearly 60% of the state is experiencing “extreme drought” conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. The Colorado River’s reservoirs have declined so far that major water cuts will be necessary next year. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom told the state’s largest urban water suppliers that if conservation efforts didn’t improve California might need to impose mandatory water restrictions.

Most of California’s water is used for agriculture, said Heather Cooley, research director at the Pacific Institute, an Oakland nonprofit that focuses on water issues. “There’s always a bigger user out there,” she said. “But what we really need is for everyone to do something.”

To make sure you are doing your part, here are some tips for water conservation:

Become a leak detective. If you fix a leak, you not only save water, but you also save money. You can check for leaks by investigating your water bill for irregularities. You can also check your water meter: Shut off all the water-using devices in your home. If your water meter is still showing water usage, you may have a leak somewhere.

You can get money for letting your lawn die, if you have a plan. You might want to consider taking advantage of the Metropolitan Water District’s Turf Replacement Program. It pays $2 a square foot for up to 5,000 square feet of lawn converted to approved “water-wise” uses. Some local agencies offer an additional rebate on top of that, which could mean an even bigger payout once work is completed and approved.

Consider how you use dishwashers. You should only run dishwashers when you have a full load. You should also only scrape solid food off your dishes before loading them into the machine, rather than pre-rinsing them.

Replace your shower head. Swapping out an older shower head for a more efficient model is “a guaranteed way to save more water without having to think about it,” said Terrence McCarthy, a water resources policy manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The DWP will mail free shower heads and faucet aerators to customers who request them.

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