Riverside sits right at border between the California Coast and the Mojave Desert. The region’s climate is hot and dry and temperatures often reach 100°F or higher in the summer. We all know that this is not an area that experiences much rainfall or has much water naturally available. In fact, Riverside’s primary water source is the rain and snow that falls in the San Bernardino Mountains, and this precious resource requires very careful management to ensure that everyone in the region has enough water. And that’s tough to do while global temperatures continue to rise and desert regions grow.
The average American uses 151.9 gallons of water every day! That’s 55,443.5 gallons each year! At this rate, it won’t be long until dry regions like Riverside won’t have enough water to go around. That’s a scary thought, but there are lots of simple things you can do throughout your day and little changes you can make to your home to decrease your water usage by up to 30%.
And as an extra bonus, decreasing your water usage can save your family money! If every American household reduced their water usage by 30%, it would save $11.3 million per day, or more than $4 billion per year!
So what can you do to reduce your water consumption? Let’s start with you daily routine:
• Showers: by installing a low-flow showerhead and taking 10 minutes or less to wash off, you can save 2.8 gallons per day. And remember, short showers use much less water than baths!
• Toilets: by installing a low-flow toilet you can save 10.3 gallons per day
• Leaks: bleaky faucets waste, on average, almost 10 gallons per day. Fix your leaks! Or use buckets under leaky faucets to catch dripping water, then use that water!
• Dishes: newer dishwashers are actually quite water efficient, but only if they’re full when you use them. Wait to run the dishwasher until you have enough dishes to fill it up. And if you do your dishes by hand, plug your sink and wash in a soapy basin rather than leaving the faucet running.
• Brushing teeth: turn the faucet off while you brush! That running water does nothing but disappear down the drain.
There are also plenty of easy changes you can make to the outside of your house to save water
• Lawn: water your lawn for short periods in the cool early morning, before the day warms up. You can keep your lawn green with much less water this way, because much less water will be evaporated away.
• Lawn alternatives: get rid of your grass completely! There are lots of drought-tolerant plants that love the hot, dry Riverside climate and require very little water to thrive. Cactus, succulents, lavenders and bougainvillas are great examples, and you can find an extensive list here: http://www.californiagardens.com/Lists/Drought_Tolerant_List.htm
• Lawn alternatives: if you want to have a green lawn but cut down on your watering, consider installing artificial turf. Riverside Public Utilities offers a $0.40 rebate per square foot of artificial turf installed. Find more info here: http://www.greenriverside.com/Green-Rebate-Programs-7/Residential/Water-Efficiency-113/Rebate-140/Waterwise_Landscape
• Water catchment: it doesn’t rain very much in Riverside but you can capitalize on the rain that does fall by building a catchment system. Put plastic barrels at the spouts of your rain gutters to catch the rain that falls on your roof, then use that water for your plants. Not only does this save you water, but it also reduces the amount of runoff created by urban sprawl.
Here are some additional resources on water conservation:
Green Riverside program: http://www.greenriverside.com/Green-Rebate-Programs-7/Residential/Water-Efficiency-113
EPA Water Sense: http://www.epa.gov/watersense
Water.org (info on the global water crisis): http://www.water.org