July 6, 2007

The Power of Conserving Water

By Luis Generoso
City of San Diego Water Resources Manager

Each of us can be a water conservation hero. Every individual possesses the power to control how much water we use and when we use it. Whether it’s waiting to do full loads of laundry or watering the garden during the evening and early morning hours, a small heroic action of using water efficiently makes a big difference.

Conserving water is more than just saving money on your water bill. Conserving water also means conserving energy and helping the environment. According to the California Energy Commission, “moving water around the state takes up to 19 percent of the total energy supply.” The City of San Diego Water Conservation Program has an annual goal to conserve an additional 700 acre-feet of water, which is approximately 228,000,000 gallons of water. This water savings translates into an estimated energy savings of 2,030,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, that would mean enough energy to provide electricity to 180 households for a year, costing an annual energy costs savings of $191,376. Additionally, saving this much energy means reducing 1,600,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, too.

Here are ways to demonstrate your power to conserve water in and outside the home:

Indoor water conservation pays for itself. Making water conservation a part of daily life begins inside the home. Water is needed for daily activities such as food preparation, cooking, and washing. Being aware of how water is used within the home helps modify overall water-use behaviors. Simple activities like fixing leaks or turning off the water while you brush your teeth are things you can work into your daily routine. In the end, these small adjustments can add up to reduced water use.

Many residents also continue to participate in the following indoor-related voucher programs and services offered by the City of San Diego to take advantage of additional monetary savings:

• The High-Efficiency Clothes Washer Voucher Program offers residents a vouch-er of $125 towards the purchase of a high-efficiency washing machine that uses 40 percent less water and 55 percent less energy than regular washing machines.

• The Residential Water Survey Program offers residential customers an interior and exterior water use survey of their home. This free service consists of identifying water usage and the flow rates of fixtures, checking for leaks, providing water-saving devices, and recommending efficiency improvements to landscaping and irrigation. A typical participating household can reduce daily water consumption by 13 percent.

Looking outdoors for water conservation opportunities. The typical single-family home will consume about 50 percent of their total water usage on outdoor needs. So, the City of San Diego has also added outdoor water conservation programs to help San Diegans appropriately water their landscaped environment. Under these programs, one can create their own seasonal watering schedules and receive recommendations on how to upgrade their irrigation equipment.

The Landscaping Water Calculator and the Commercial Landscape Survey Program are two popular programs that are available to San Diego’s residents and businesses.

• The Landscaping Watering Calculator is an easy-to-use tool that helps customers estimate the right amount of water to give a landscape or garden weekly for each month of the year. To visit the calculator log on to: www.sandiego.gov/water/conservation.

• The Commercial Landscape Survey Program optimizes water use for irrigation by providing commercial customers who have at least one acre of irrigated landscape with a water-use budget based upon their property’s attributes and weather factors. Since its inception in September of 2002, the Commercial Landscape Survey Program has conducted more than 220 surveys, and the water savings on surveys range from 10-50 percent (when data is compared to the previous year’s water usage).

Spread the word about the power of water conservation. By using water more efficiently, you can save money on your utility bills, protect the environment, and minimize the risk of another energy crisis. Be a hero everyday by making water conservation a way of life.

The Water Conservation Program reduces water demand through promoting or providing incentives for the installation of hardware that provides permanent water savings, and by providing services and information to help San Diegans make better decisions about water use. For more information about Water Conservation, visit www.sandiego.gov/water/conservation.

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