Easy Ways to Conserve Water
Only You Can Save Water. Here Are 4 Easy Solutions:
Billions of gallons of water are being wasted every year–over 300,000,000,000 in California alone. You can do your part with small changes to your daily routines at home. Bonus: It’ll also reduce your water bill.
Brushing your teeth. Turn off the faucet while you are brushing. You can save 8 gallons a day. If everyone in California adopts this one change, we will save over 200 million gallons a day.
Taking a shower. If you reduce your shower time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, you’ll save tons of water–literally. If you’re using newer, reduced-flow showerheads and take shorter showers you can save 12 gallons per day. If you’re using older showerheads, that reduction to 5 minutes jumps to saving 25 gallons per day. (And if you’re using an older one–consider replacing it.)
Dishwashers and laundry. Make sure to do a full load of dishes or clothes–not a half. Doing full dish loads instead of half can save 25 gallons per month for a household.
Plants and lawn. If you water your lawn, make sure to do it early in the morning or late in the evening. Otherwise, much of the water will simply evaporate. More broadly, you can also consider replacing non-native lawns with native plants.
How Water Is Used in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah
Water conservation is a big issue in the Southwest, from Phoenix to Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Here’s what you need to know.
Much of California’s water is used for irrigation to grow crops. California agriculture is world-famous, but crops such as almond trees use huge amounts of water. Personal use by Californians is a significant use of water.
Water rights in California have lots of regulation and the issue of who gets to use how much water is often mired in political fights. But if all 39 million Californians followed the steps above regarding residential use, it would save the state billions of gallons a day in water.
Arizona residents use 120 gallons of water per day. According to the state government, “The largest use of potable water in Arizona is for landscaping and as much as 70 percent of residential water use is outdoors. Millions of gallons are used annually to irrigate non-residential landscapes such as parks, golf courses, sport fields and resorts.” One major way you can conserve water is to replace non-native plants (or lawns) with native plants.
Water conservation has long been important in Arizona. In 2019, the state used less water than it did in 1957 despite an exploding population. The city of Phoenix has 3 trillion gallons of water saved, and developers have to show they preserved a 100-year supply of water before developing a new area. For more information, visit ArizonaWaterFacts.com.
Nevada is the driest state in the country and parts of it only get 4 inches of rain in a whole year (compared to 40 inches in a state like Virginia). As with other states, the vast majority of water goes toward food production, but households use a significant portion of the overall water.
According to the EPA, southern Nevada (Las Vegas) uses about 205 gallons of water per person per day. While that is a big improvement from using 314 gallons of water per person per day in 2004, the state wants to make further improvements as the population grows.
Along with the suggestions above for conserving water during daily routines, Nevada strongly encourages residents to forgo the use of ornamental lawns. Nevada’s Water Smart Landscape Rebate program pays people to replace grass lawns with native landscaping. The EPA notes this program “replaced nearly 174 million square feet of ornamental lawns with water-efficient trees, native plants, and low-volume irrigation systems. An average of 3.4 billion gallons of water were saved annually.”
Utah has made strides in reducing average water usage per person. According to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, in 1995, Utah used 321 gallons per person per day. In 2015, that figure had fallen to 220.
However, the situation is still severe. Utah was the fastest growing state between 2010 and 2020, and the growing population needs water. As of July 2021, the entire state of Utah was in a serious drought. One town went so far as to halt the development of new homes because there isn’t enough water to meet new residents’ needs.
This is why it’s important you take the easy steps above to help conserve water. If each person in Utah took these small steps, the state would save 85 million gallons of water per day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Aren’t golf courses a huge waste of water?
Golf courses are a relatively small use of water overall. Whether that’s still frivolous, given the small number of people who golf, is a matter of opinion.
Does bottled water exacerbate droughts?
No. Bottled water only uses about 0.03 percent of water in California. In Arizona, bottled water makers use tap water, not their own private wells. (They purify the tap water to remove impurities that water utilities don’t.)
Why is irrigation such a big use of water?
California has a great growing climate that provides fresh produce throughout the year, but crops need water. There’s no way around this. States like California have struggled to balance allocation of water between many different users.
Why can’t farmers use less water instead of me?
They should–and do. Farmers, for example, are using precision irrigation systems that can replace old-school flood irrigation that is less efficient. However, the guidance listed above is something that easy that everyone can do to help.