By: Michelle D. Alderson
In February of this year, the Governor of California declared a state emergency due to drought. “ …California faces its third consecutive year of drought and we must prepare for the worst,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said. As of this writing, the state has not issued a mandatory water rationing order, but asks that the residents of California participate in a voluntary reduction. With the summer months ahead, the drought is even more cause for concern. Lawns and gardens will be watered more often, more cars will be washed; essentially the hose will replace the rain. By adjusting their lifestyle a bit, homeowners can reduce water waste -- and save a buck on the monthly water bill. Here’s how:
1. “Plant” Synthetic Grass
If you are thinking about planting a new lawn this year, know that AstroTurf is back. This is not the same kind of artificial turf you think of when you reminisce about the Brady Bunch’s backyard. Synthetic grass actually looks like grass, and it does not need a drop of water to maintain its lush green color. An additional bonus is that you’ll never have to mow the lawn again.
2. Water Efficiently
Residential properties are regularly overwatered by 30 to 40 percent (http://www.stopwaste.org). Learn how to water your lawn efficiently and at the correct time of day. For example, watering your lawn either in the late evening or early morning reduces evaporation.
3. Go to a Car Wash
Using a running hose to wash a car uses up to 150 gallons of water. Most car washes use about five to 10 gallons of water per car (http://www.epa.gov/). In addition, the water used to wash a car in a driveway goes from the street gutter straight to bay or rivers without being treated. Car washes must treat their water before it enters the water system. Many car washes also recycle graywater, keeping the environment clean and conserving at the same time.
4. Use a Broom
Running a garden hose can waste up to 10 gallons per minute (http://conserve.sfwater.org) and is unnecessary when cleaning a driveway or sidewalk. The water from a garden hose also contributes to the pollutant waters already abundant in sewer systems.
5. Check for Leaking Sprinklers and Hoses
A leaky faucet can waste 100 gallons a day (http://www.sscwd.org/), which includes outdoor systems. Check for and replace leaking hoses or sprinklers. Place automatic water shut-off nozzles on any hoses.
6. Keep a Rain Collection Barrel
During a 1-inch rain, 625 gallons of water can be collected from 1,000 square feet of roof (http://www.stopwaste.org). Rainwater can be channeled through gutters and downspouts to a storage unit, which can then be used to water lawns and gardens.
7. Plant Mulch
Planting a layer of mulch around trees and plants, such as chunks of bark, peat moss or gravel slows down evaporation. By doing so, 750 to 1,500 gallons of water can be saved a month (http://www.mwdh2o.com/).
8. Grow Native Plants
As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), native plants, also called indigenous plants, are plants that have evolved over thousands of years in a particular region. Native plants are drought-resistant, require fewer pesticides than lawns (another plus for the environment), and require less water to maintain their natural beauty.
If you want to find more ways to conserve water both inside and outside, check out this non-profit Web site: http://www.h2ouse.org/tour/index.cfm. It’s geared for homeowners to research room by room in their home for better ways to conserve water. To read about the drought in California, visit the state government’s website http://www.saveourh2o.org/ for more information.