Golden Staters are accustomed to conserving water as a matter of habit. Many communities are now or will be under mandatory water rationing, including mine, so I’ve had to figure out how I can improve on my already conservative water use habits. But, conservation is important for everyone for two reasons: 1), worldwide, we are facing water shortages of unknown magnitude in the coming years, so everyone should do his or her part and 2) saving water also saves energy. 6.5% of the energy used in the state of California is for pumping and treating water.
The way I see it, there are three tiers of water conservation, depending on how far you’re willing to go:
1-5. Low-hanging fruit: conservation measures so easy, they won’t inconvenience you at all.
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes, and the hose while washing your car.
Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints.
Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher.
Sweep the driveway and patio instead of hosing it off.
Water your garden or yard in the cool of the morning or evening to lessen evaporation.
6-11. Intermediate: slightly more inconvenient, but will make you feel righteous!
Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors.
Shorten your showers. Or better yet, turn off the water while lathering up.
Don’t shower every day. Take a sponge bath instead.
Don’t flush every time. It’s not that bad.
Capture the tap and shower water that runs while you’re waiting for it to get hot and use it to water your garden or flush your toilet.
The old "brick in the toilet tank": displacing water in your toilet tank with a brick or plastic bottle weighted with rocks or marbles will save 5 to 10 gallons a day.
12-14. Water warrior level: you get a gold star!
Replace your toilet, washer, and dishwasher with low water use options.
Rip out the lawn and plant a lovely drought resistant garden.
Install a grey water system.
Every drop counts! (Here are even more water-saving tips if you’re really into it.)