Am I wasting water?

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hoseCalifornia is in the grip of a three year-long drought, a drought that shows no sign of ending soon. In response, water districts across the state are urging their customers to take sensible measures to conserve water.

To convince people to conserve water, agencies like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are using both carrots and sticks. The carrots include public education campaigns and offering items like low-flow shower heads to its customers for free. The sticks include restrictions on what days people can water their yards and beefed up water waste enforcement units that will be increasingly ready to issue hefty fines when water waste is spotted.

But despite those measures and all the drought and water conservation news, it can be difficult to wrap our heads around just how much water all of us use in our daily lives and how best to go about reducing our individual water consumption.

I decided to get personal with the issue by inviting the DWP’s top water conservation enforcement official to my own home to conduct a kind of  residential water use physical.

You can also get more information about water education campaigns and ways to save water at Save Our H2O.

Here are some of the tips I learned:

  • Water your garden in the morning and late afternoon hours instead of midday
  • Spend five minutes or less in the shower
  • Find home leaks and fix them
  • Don’t wash your car in the driveway.

Listen to the story of my visit with a DWP water official below:

Over the last twenty years, thanks to low flow sink and shower heads, there have been big gains in  water conservation inside homes and apartments. Here, Rick Silva uses a "flow bag" to measure the amount of water coming out of my kitchen sink, the faster the bag fills up with water the greater the water consumed.The DWP says faucets and showers should ideally release 2 gallons of water per minute or less. (Photo: Raphael Gonzalez)
Over the last 20 years, thanks to low flow sink and shower heads, there have been big gains in water conservation inside homes and apartments. Here, Rick Silva uses a “flow bag” to measure the amount of water coming out of my kitchen sink, the faster the bag fills up with water the greater the water consumed. The DWP says sink and shower heads should ideally release 2 gallons of water per minute or less. Residents should also consider getting low-flush toilets. (Photo: Raphael Gonzalez)
When it comes to single-family homes,  gardens and yards can account for 50 to 70% of water use.  The DWP, like other water agencies in California, suggest planting drought tolerant water-sipping plant and replacing grass where possible. Here, Rick Silva shows me a device he uses to take soil samples to see if plants are being overwatered. (Photo: Raphael Gonzalez)
When it comes to single-family homes, gardens and yards can account for 50 to 70 percent of water use. The DWP, like other water agencies in California, suggests planting drought tolerant plants and replacing grass where possible. Here, Rick Silva shows me a device he uses to take soil samples to see if plants are being overwatered. (Photo: Raphael Gonzalez)