LAcarGUY Green Tip of the Month: Drought

February 24th, 2014 by

car_leaf_tab_custom_icon_California Governor Brown recently declared California’s drought a state of emergency and with that some very important people — President Obama among them — will convene in California this week with a singular goal: to help Californians as we endure the drought.  Last year was the driest year on record for California, and while we enjoyed some light rain last week, the drought hasn’t let up by any measure.

It’s not just a lack of precipitation that’s causing the problem. For far too long Californians have used more water than we can sustain and have not done enough to learn more efficient ways to use this precious resource. This system of too little supply and too much demand is finally catching up with us. And as climate change becomes the “new normal,” our water woes will only get worse.

While we can’t make it rain, we can prepare for drier days. The task at hand requires us to cope with the disaster today, prepare us for the chronic water shortages to come and protect this and future generations from the widening water scarcity impacts of climate change.

There is also a lot the public can do to help. Governor Brown has asked all residents of the state to voluntarily cut their water use by 20%.

Here’s how you can do your part:

Repair Leaks in Your Home. Add a small amount of food coloring to the water in the tank behind your toilet, and if any color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes you’ve discovered a leak that may have been running for months undetected. If you have a faucet or shower head that drips, or a toilet that runs all the time – that is water you could save.

Use the dishwasher rather than wash by hand. Although some people are very efficient at washing by hand, most of us aren’t and that means up to 27 gallons of water per load. A new Energy Star-rated dishwasher can consume as little as 3 gallons per load.

Use a car wash. Washing your car by hand not only uses 100 gallons of water or more in one go, but may also result in contaminated water containing brake fluid, oil, and other automotive fluids entering waterways through storm drains. Car wash services are required to channel water to treatment plants and the most efficient use less than 40 gallons of fresh water per wash.

Expanding “Cash for Grass” or “Lawn to Garden” Programs. Cities can incentivize homeowners’ switch from grass lawns that require watering to native landscaping that does not. Many are already doing so. For example, the Long Beach Water Department landscape conversion program provides a $3 per-square-foot incentive to replace grass lawns with more water-efficient landscapes.  As a result of this and similar conservation efforts by Long Beach, water use declined from 167 gallons per person per day in 1980 to 110 gallons in 2010.

Shop for only what you need and reuse as much as possible. Water is a precious resource. It is used to process all sorts of goods that we use everyday from coffee, to chocolate, to jeans. Did you know it takes 713 gallons of water to produce and manufacture 1 t-shirt?

Eat less meat. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of beef.

Fun Fact:
The average American uses 80-100 gallons of water every day, that’s two full bathtubs! By conserving water we can lower the demand for natural resources, reduce the emission of air pollutants, improve air quality, reduce the accumulation of solid waste, and reduce climate change impacts.