Drought Emergency – Reduce Your Water Consumption

As California approaches the fourth year of its worst drought in decades, Californians must prioritize reducing water consumption.

Governor Gerry Brown announced the state of emergency in January this year, urging Californian citizens to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by up to 20%. After a state survey showed that water consumption had actually risen, regulators rolled out mandatory water restrictions.

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Emergency Water Conservation Measures

This July, emergency water conservation measures were implemented to restrict outdoor water use. In some areas of the state over 50% of the daily water consumption is used simply towards watering the lawn. The following water-related activities are now prohibited:

  • Washing vehicles using a hose without a shut-off nozzle
  • Watering outdoor landscapes resulting in excess run off
  • Outdoor watering with potable water more than two days per week
  • The use of fountains and water features where the water is not re-circulated

These restrictions will last for nine months, with $500 fines issued to any offenders.

Legislation has also been introduced to regulate groundwater pumping. Local government officials are required to bring their groundwater basins up to sustainable levels, ensuring that only as much water is taken out as what can be naturally replenished.


What can you do to Reduce Your Water Consumption?

Most Americans are surprised to learn that they use an average of 90 gallons of water a day. This is a breakdown of average water use in California residences. It does not include outdoor water use which accounts for over 50% of water consumption.










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Here are simple steps that we can take to significantly reduce water consumption:


  • Take a shower instead of a bath

  • Take shorter showers. Cutting down your shower time by one minute a day will save 2000 gallons of water per year

  • Switch off the water to lather when washing your hair and hands

  • Don’t keep the water running when brushing your teeth

  • Wash dishes by hand or only run your dishwasher when it is full

  • Don’t use the washing machine for small laundry loads

  • Install low flush toilets

  • Put food colouring in your toilet tank, if it goes into the bowl without flushing then there is a leak that needs to be fixed

  • Keep drinking water in the fridge so you don’t waste water waiting for it to turn cold

  • Eat less meat, dairy and processed foods as a huge amount of water is needed to produce these products.

  • Plan meals to help reduce food waste. 40% of the food supply in the US is wasted every year, which wastes 25% of the freshwater consumed annually.


  • Check your irrigation system for leaks.

  • Change to a drip irrigation system that uses less water than a pop-up sprinkler system

  • Switch to artificial turf to keep your lawn green without water

  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to keep the soil cool and prevent evaporation

  • Change the plants in your garden to ones that are drought tolerant

  • Install a grey water system which recycles water from indoors to use for outdoor watering

  • Keep a bucket in the shower to collect excess water and reuse cooking water to water the lawn once cooled

  • Rather than washing your car at home, go to a carwash that recycles it water

  • Look into local rebate programs designed to incentivize water savings. The Santa Clara Valley Water District currently offers several rebates to cover xeriscaping, low-flush toilets, and other programs for commercial and residential properties.


We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threaten;, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas. I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling on all Californians to conserve water in every way possible” – Gov. Jerry Brown


Recommended Reading:

California drought

Californians urged to reduce water consumption

Save Our Water Campaign

Groundwater pumping

Reduce, Re use, Recycle

The drought and farming

Water usage in Californian homes


By Louise Bilham

October 9, 2014


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