With the U.S. population doubling over the past 50 years, our thirst for water tripling, and at least 36 states facing water shortages by 2013, the need to conserve water is becoming more and more critical.
Historically, California has experienced periods of dry years and some years with significant precipitation. 1977 was the driest year on record and the state has had below-average precipitation every year since 2007, except for 2011.
Because of drought conditions in the past (1976-77, and 1989-90 and 2007-2009), great strides have been made in the area of water conservation. Plumbing standards were altered for toilets and showerheads resulting in significant water savings. Newly designed washing machines lowered water and energy usage.
New technologies in the area of landscape irrigation – weather-based controllers and rotator nozzles – were introduced into the market place. Turf removal programs and promotion of the use of drought-tolerant plants were introduced by water agencies. Many agencies provided financial incentives/rebates to encourage change in water use behavior. Significant water savings were achieved.
However, three consecutive years (2012, 2013 and 2014) of the lowest rainfall and snowpack totals have put California in the worst drought conditions since weather data have been measured. State reservoirs are near record lows, local groundwater basins and ecosystems are stressed, vast tracks of farmland lie fallow and wildfire risk is extremely high.
In January 2014, Governor Edmund Brown declared a drought emergency and called on Californians to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent.
In April 2014, Governor Brown issued an executive order to strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions and called again on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.
In response to the ongoing severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board approved emergency water conservation regulations in July 2014 for all Californians. The regulations are intended to reduce outdoor residential urban water use. The Board adopted additional measures in March 2014.
The Governor executed an Executive Order in April 2015 that calls for a 25 % reduction in water use. The State Resources Control Board adopted additional water use restrictions on May 5, 2015.
Adopted Statewide Water Conservation Regulations – May 2015
What’s Prohibited for Everyone
- Using potable water to wash sidewalks & driveways
- Runoff when irrigating with potable water
- Using hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars
- Using potable water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water
- Using outdoor irrigation during and 48 hours following measurable precipitation
What’s Required for Business
- Restaurants and other food service establishments can only serve water to customers on request
- Hotels and Motels must provide guests with the option of not having towels and linens laundered daily
What Water Suppliers Must Do
- Impose restrictions on outdoor irrigation
- Notify customers about leaks that are within the customer’s control
- Report on water use monthly
- Report on compliance and enforcement
- Water Suppliers must reduce their water production by certain percentages set by the State Water Resources Control Board:
City of Banning: 32%
Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District 36%
Yucaipa Valley Water District 36%
Violations of prohibited activities may be punishable by fines by the local water provider.
If you live in Beaumont or Cherry Valley, click here www.bcvwd.org/
If you live in Banning, click here www.ci.banning.ca.us
If you live in Calimesa, click here www.cityofcalimesa.net
If you live in Yucaipa, click here www.yvwd.dst.ca.us/
Or contact your local water provided for information on the regulations in your area.
San Gorgonio Pass Water Alliance Water Conservation Committee
The Water Conservation Committee of the Pass Water Alliance meets at least once a month and has focused its efforts on developing a regional water conservation message that will resonate with and be effective from Calimesa in the West to Verbenia on the East. The various retail water agencies in the region have varied landscapes, resources, and conservation priorities.
Many of the individual Alliance members have their own water conservation programs that work well for those individual members. A common message and focus that would work well throughout the Pass is our goal.
The Committee is currently focusing on applying for a water conservation grant. There are a number of conservation-oriented grants available from federal and state sources. Grants are available for such conservation-themed projects as turf removal, sprinkler controller retrofits, school education programs, conservation gardens, leak detection programs, and other concepts. The Committee is currently researching which of these will work best so that the region can leverage its assets by hiring a grant writer to develop a winning proposal that will bring outside funding to the entire region.
Using Water Efficiently
In California, the largest use of all urban water is watering landscapes. In the inland regions, such as the San Gorgonio Pass, 65 to 75 percent of residential water use occurs outdoors.
When a landscape or irrigation system is poorly designed or poorly maintained, or the landscape consists of plants not suited to the dry and often hot California climate, water demand increases as a result of excessive evaporation, leaks and runoff. Water consumption can be greatly reduced with careful planning, good plant selection, efficient irrigation systems and good water management and maintenance practices.
Using Water Efficiently Outdoors
Reduce irrigation cycles by 1-3 minutes
Irrigate landscapes only in the early morning hours. Avoid watering from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Adjust irrigation timer valve run times seasonally. More in summer; less in winter.
While hand watering, focus on dry spots and avoid runoff
Adjust sprinklers to avoid unnecessary overspray
Replace spray head nozzles with rotator nozzles
Use drips or bubblers to irrigate flower and shrub beds
Put 2 to 4 inches of mulch around bushes, trees and shrubs
Fix leaky and broken sprinkler heads
Replace all or part of your lawn with low water use plant materials
- Outdoor Cleaning:
Clean sidewalks and driveways with a broom rather than a hose
Take vehicles to car wash facilities or use a self-closing hose nozzle
Use pool or spa covers
Repair leaks around hosebibs, spigots, pool and spa pumps
Clean pool filter manually rather than backwash
Using Water Efficiently Indoors
Fix leaky faucets and toilets
Install aerators on all faucets
Run only full loads in your clothes and dish washers
Take showers in less than 10 minutes
Turn off water when brushing teeth and shaving
Do not use toilet as trash can
Replace pre-1994 toilets with more efficient toilets (1.6 gallons per flush or less)
Replace clothes washer with more efficient model
Replace older shower head with one that uses 2.5 gallons per minute
When hand washing dishes, fill sink and do not leave water running
Water Conservation Information and Resources
Save Our WaterCalifornia Department of Water Resources/Association of California Water Agencies
www.iefficient.com Inland Empire water agencies outreach program
www.cuwcc.org California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC) How To Videos
Irrigation – drip, sprinklers, systems and maintenance, water efficient; Landscaping – design & maintenance, turf conversion, mulch/soils/composting, plants and sod; Graywater; Rainwater Harvesting; Storm Water; Water Meters
www.wmwd.watersavingplants.com Inland Empire Water Wise Gardening
www.wateruseitwisely.com Water – Use it Wisely
Homeowners in the 55+ community of Sun Lakes Country Club replaced their front lawn with drought tolerant plant materials and hardscape.