A recent survey funded by the Association of California Water Agencies and state Department of Water Resources provided insight regarding the public’s opinion on California’s water crisis. Out of 1,200 survey participants, the overwhelming majority (81%) stated that they felt California is suffering an ongoing shortage, even if we receive normal amounts of rainfall. Slightly more than 25% considered this to be a “crisis” while just over half of the survey participants said that this is a significant problem.
The survey participants were from a range of geographic locations including Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The $468,000 funding from the Association of California Water Agencies and state Department of Water Resources will go towards public outreach and education, by showing how every-day people can conserve water. Some cities, such as Santa Cruz, California are taking matters into their own hands by passing more strict measures in terms of irrigation or landscaping. Instead of installing an inefficient irrigation system, people are suggested (and sometimes required) to install efficient versions-such as drip emitters.
Also, in an attempt to lower water needs, many water districts and other related agencies have been promoting the installation of water efficient landscaping. Some water districts even provide rebate funding for removing high water use plants, such as lawn or turf grass, and replacing it with native plants that use significantly less water.
Other factors included in these water conservation measures include geographic locations where certain plants are prohibited. For example, some cities have banned grasses from being planted on any slopes greater than 5% in new housing developments. Not only does this prevent water runoff, but it also helps reduce the amount of contaminants that enter our waterways. For more information regarding water conservation programs in your area, contact your local water district or water purveyor.
One of the states with the most drastic need for water is the second largest state in the United States of America: Texas. With so much agriculture and ranching in Texas, their need for water is exacerbated. The two most prominent solutions to solve water issues are water conservation and water sequestration-the gathering of water from other sources.
Many professionals in the water industry promote water conservation instead of water sequestration. This is not because they have something to benefit, it is because conservation is the only reasonable long-term solution. By promoting conservation, people use less water to complete the same function, such as showering or washing your hands. This is the best long-term solution because it significantly reduces the amount of water wasted.
Water sequestration seems to be a good idea to many people because they think that more water means it will last longer. While this is partially true—the more water you have, the longer it will last—it is a poor long-term solution. By using excess water for those tasks such as showering or washing your hands, there is a significant amount of wastewater which cannot be re-used. As a result, we need to clean and purify all of the water that we use. This also increases the costs of transporting water, since we need to move more water to each site. With a greater cost of infrastructure, our governmental entities will have less money to spend on other crucial projects.
Also, water sequestration projects tend to be incredibly expensive, whereas water conservation projects are relatively inexpensive. Here are three proposed water sequestration projects in Texas, and their accompanying costs:
Brownsville Weir $89.6 million
Fastrill $569 million
Marvin Nichols $2.2 billion
As I mentioned previously, the cost of water conservation measures are difficult to report because conservation measures are typically handled by individual water districts. As a result, the cost of such projects is largely dependant on the cost of the contract with the water district.
Download this .PDF for more information on Texas water: http://www.texaswatermatters.org/projects/save/save.pdf
Glendale Water and Power recently began installing Smart Meters to test the new devices and begin phasing out the obsolete older meters. Glendale Water and Power was scheduled to begin replacing meters on April 8. The new Smart Meters are able to sustain two-way communication with the utility company, which could potentially help reduce water consumption.
Glendale Water and Power plans to have the Smart Meters online so users can view real-time consumption. Being able to view the current consumption can help customers lower their consumption rates by discovering any leaks. Glendale Water and Power is also planning on replacing electricity meters with Smart Meters.
Customers will be able to detect any leaks they may have by turning off all fixtures, such as faucets, showers, and hoses. The customer will then be able to access their live water meter consumption and see if any water is being used. If the meter is still running, either there is a leak or you forgot to turn something off!
If you suspect that there is a leak in your home, some of the most common places are: running toilets, dripping faucets and showerheads, or leaking pipes.
Running toilets often make hissing noises as the flapper lets in a trickle of water to re-fill the tank. If you are unsure of a leaking toilet, place 3-4 drops of food coloring in the tank and wait approximately 15 minutes. If the water in your toilet bowl has dye in it, you have a leak. Some leaks can be fixed by changing the flapper in your toilet, as they dry out and crack over age. Other leaks may require you to install a new toilet.
Dripping faucets and showerheads are some of the most common leaks in households. Although they seem small, leaks can cost customers hundreds of dollars per year. Some leaks are caused by old gaskets, and others are caused by the actual fixture (such as a faucet or shower) not sealing properly. If the gasket is the problem, you can un-screw the showerhead or faucet aerator and change out the gasket. Using a small amount of Teflon tape also helps seal the threads on the fixture. If the actual fixture is leaking, you should replace it with a new fixture to prevent any un-needed water loss.
Leaking pipes are also a concern for customers, especially in homes with older pipes. They often occur under the house in the crawl space, or outdoors because the temperature fluctuations stress the pipes and may cause cracks. If this is the case, contact your local plumber and have them fix the leak.
If you have any other leaking fixtures, feel free to send me an email and I’ll look for a solution!
Everybody has heard the environmental slogan of “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” in terms of garbage and recycling, but how does this apply to water usage? This slogan is actually just as pertinent to water usage as it is to garbage and recycling. The Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle slogan is often referred to as “The Three R’s” for short. Here are some ways that The Three R’s apply to water conservation and consumption:
By reducing the amount of water we consume, we will lessen the amount of water that needs to be pumped out of the ground or moved from one location to another. After all, about 20% of the energy used in California goes directly to pumping water. California should also have more public funds available if our dependency on water transportation projects such as the Aqueduct was reduced. You can reduce your water usage by:
Retrofitting any inefficient fixtures in your home with efficient versions, such as showerheads, toilets, faucet aerators, dishwashing machines, and clothes washers.
Programming your irrigation timer to water only when needed. You can manually change your irrigation schedule or buy a weather-based irrigation controller which automatically adjusts your water budget to suit the current climatic conditions.
Fix all leaks-indoor and outdoor. Common locations for leaks include, but are not limited to dripping faucets, leaking toilets, and dripping hose bibs outdoors. You can check for leaks in your home by turning off all water using fixtures, and then looking at your water meter. If it is moving, you have a leak somewhere on your property.
We can reuse the water that we consume by implementing “grey water” systems in our homes. Grey water systems capture water from devices such as faucets and shower drains. These systems do not connect to toilets because of sanitary issues. The grey water systems filter the water so that it can be re-used to wash hands, fill toilets, or even water your garden. However because of health issues, it is not recommended to shower or drink grey water.
Although recycling water may seem very similar to reusing it, recycling is the act of converting used materials into forms that can be re-used as a new product. For example, waste water can be recycled and used as “fresh” water. Many treatment plants do not filter water to consumption-standards, so it cannot be reused as potable water. Recycled water is often being used to irrigate landscaping because it is cheaper than potable water. The technology exists to treat waste water to drinking water standards, but it is not often used because of the social stigma that you are consuming “sewage water.” The interesting fact is that some of these treatment plants actually make the water safer than bottled water!
Watch a video on the water cycle to learn more at: http://www.knowyourh2o.org/index.php