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Drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning, gardening — almost everything done at home uses water. Water is an essential part of daily life, but it’s disappearing fast. Climate change, population growth, and water pollution are making our already limited freshwater resources scarce.
California depends on snow from the mountains to melt and resupply surface water, but this year we saw more rain than snow. “If we have more rain in some years, like right now, especially with climate change, we can’t store that fast enough,” said Rafael Chavez, outreach program lead for the California Department of Water Resources.
Long Beach, in particular, relies heavily on imported water, with about 40% of our water traveling from the Colorado River watershed and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta to our homes and businesses.
“[Water] has to travel such a long way and go through so many different areas,” said Dean Wang, manager of water resources for the Long Beach Water Department. “The more that we can conserve means less additional imported water to buy and less additional water infrastructure to build. The least expensive drop of water is the drop of water that we don’t use.”
“Due to climate change, we have a more fluctuating supply of water,” said Allen Young, a public information officer for the CDWR. “Water conservation is important — increasingly important.”
Here are some ways we can conserve water at home:
Be mindful of how you’re using your water.
“Since we’re dependent on this variable source that nature controls,” Young said, “What we need to do as a community is we need to be mindful of how we use our water.”
You can start by turning off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth, collecting the water you let run while you wait for it to warm, lathering and shaving with the shower off, and taking one-song showers.
Use appliances that are water and energy-efficient.
Switching to low or dual flush toilets, low flow showerheads, and high-efficiency washing machines is an effective way to save water at home. These appliances can be expensive in the short-run, so Long Beach offers rebates to help residents transition to water-efficient appliances. Long Beach Water Department also offers a $35 rebate for residents who switch to high-efficiency toilets and showerheads.
Keep up with maintenance.
Checking your faucets, pipes, and toilets for leaks is a simple way to save gallons of water. According to the EPA, the average household wastes over 10,000 gallons of water because of leaks. Leaks are generally easy and inexpensive to check and repair. Repairing minor leaks can also save you 10% on your water bill.
To check your faucet and pipes for leaks, dry the surrounding area or place a dry container under the faucet or pipe. In an hour, if there is wetness, there’s a leak. To check your toilet for leaks, put a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color appears in the bowl within 10 minutes without flushing, there’s a leak.
Replace your lawn with California friendly or native plants.
“Grass is a very water-intensive lifestyle choice,” Wang said. “Long Beach offers a rebate or incentive for residents to replace their turf with more water-efficient landscapes and gardens. We call that our Lawn-to-Garden program.”
Since 2019, the updated L2G program offers $3.00 per square foot of lawn removed in the front yard and $2.00 per square foot in the backyard as well as a design reimbursement for projects that meet the requirements listed on the program website.
Most of our goods — from food to clothes to electronics — use water at one point in their journey to the market. Simply buying less can greatly reduce your water footprint.
Buying less water-intensive foods, such as animal products, can also dramatically cut your water footprint. According to a 2012 study from the University of Twente’s Department of Water Engineering and Management, “nearly one-third of the total water footprint of agriculture in the world is related to the production of animal products.”
“We’ve created a culture of water use efficiency through a lot of different platforms, including educational campaigns and programs, and working with our community to incorporate what makes Long Beach unique,” said Kaylee Weatherly, a public information officer for LBWD. “We’re all in this together and we all have to save water together with whatever means we have available.”
For more water-saving hacks, go to the LiveH2OLB website.