California drought: How you can save water

California drought: How you can save water

Michele Ellson

Governor Jerry Brown issued a drought declaration for California on Friday, and he's urging people to cut their water use by 20 percent. The typical Californian uses 192 gallons of water a day, according to a new website the state set up to help people reduce water use; half the water is used to water yards, it says, while nearly a third of the water people use inside their homes goes down the toilet.

Here's a list of water-saving tips from the site, Save Our Water; more information is available by clicking the site link. Additional tips and information on how you can obtain water-saving device rebates or free devices are available on the East Bay Municipal Utilities District's website.


Laundry room

-Use the washing machine for full loads only to save water and energy.
-Install a water-efficient clothes washer and save 16 gallons per load.
-Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain their color.


-Run the dishwasher only when full to save water and energy.
-Install a water- and energy-efficient dishwasher and save three to eight gallons per load.
-Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to less than one gallon per minute.
-When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
-Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
-If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
-Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
-Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
-Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
-Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
-Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
-Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients.
-Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary.
-If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
-Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.


-Install low-flow shower heads and save two and a half gallons per shower.
-Take five minute showers instead of 10 minute showers. Save 12.5 gallons with a low flow showerhead, 25 gallons with a standard 5.0 gallon per minute shower head.
-Fill the bathtub halfway or less and save 12 gallons per bath.
-When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
-Install aerators on bathroom faucets. Save 1.2 gallons per person per day.
-Turn water off when brushing teeth or shaving. Save approximately 10 gallons per day.
-Install a high-efficiency toilet. Save 19 gallons per person per day.
-Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket.
-Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
-Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
-Consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
-Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor and save up to 300 gallons a month.
-Turn off the water while washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons a month.
-When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
-Take a (short) shower instead of a bath. A bathtub can use up to 70 gallons of water.


-Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Save 25 gallons each time you water.
-Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Save 12 to 15 gallons each time.
-Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Save 15 gallons each time you water.
-Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
-Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds. Save 20 to 30 gallons each time you water for every 1,000 square feet.
-Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Save 30 to 60 gallons each time you water for every 1,000 square feet.