You may have heard, the State of California is in a serious drought. And rumor has it, soon greater water restrictions will be placed on residential users.
Gov. Jerry Brown recently imposed mandatory water restrictions on residents businesses and farms for the first time, and ordered cities and towns in the drought-ravaged state to reduce usage by 25%.
“We’re in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”
The Sacramento Bee got busy soliciting questions from readers who wanted some practical advice on things they could do to conserve when the drought “got real” last summer. Following are answers to some of the questions submitted to Bee reporters.
Q: Which uses less water, washing dishes by hand or running them in a full dishwasher? – Greg Steur, Fair Oaks
A: The dishwasher almost always wins this water-saving argument.
According to industry studies, the average automatic dishwasher uses about 6 gallons per load. Energy Star-rated efficient dishwashers whittle that water usage down to about 4 gallons a load.
Now, turn on the tap. Kitchen sink water flows at an average rate of 2 gallons per minute. Can you do all your dishes in less than three minutes? Read more
Q: How can I save the water that runs while I’m waiting for hot water? – Patty Baker, Sacramento
A: The answer is very low-tech. Get a bucket.
The Regional Water Authority recommends using a 5-gallon bucket to catch water while the shower flow warms. A typical shower uses 2 to 2.5 gallons per minute. If it takes the water two minutes to warm up, that’s four to five gallons. Since it’s straight from the tap, that water is purified and can be used anywhere in the home and garden (as long as you use a clean bucket). Read more
Q: Why is running water down the sink, shower, toilet or gutter considered wasteful use? Is not every drop that is sewered or drained in Sacramento sent to the wastewater treatment plant, which, except for a small amount that evaporates, returns that water to the river from which it came?
A: Using excess water in these ways is considered wasteful for a number of reasons. First, the more any one person runs his tap or toilet, the less water is available for someone else in Sacramento to do the same. That’s because the city is bound by regulations on how much water it can draw from the river at any given time. It has storage in place to smooth out the highs and lows in everyday demand. But when river water is in short supply, it becomes more important for residents to conserve. Read more