With the crippling drought affecting California, residents are being asked to take as many steps as possible to conserve water. From checking appliances for leaks to taking shorter showers, Californians are altering their lifestyles to reduce their water consumption.
Californians have been asked to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 20% since July, but have managed to save only 9%. Because of this, the State Water Resources Control Board has changed wording to make the savings mandatory, and to increase the amount residents should be saving.
One of the easiest ways for Californians to decrease water consumption is by replacing their grass lawns with drought-friendly landscaping. In Santa Barbara, a city rebate program is reimbursing homeowners half the cost of converting their lawns to drought-friendly plants. Outdoor water use often accounts for between 50% and 80% of homeowners’ utility bills, and can be reduced by applying mulch and hand-watering instead of using automated sprinklers. Mulch can be made of many different aesthetically-pleasing materials, and is used to regulate temperature and reduce weed growth, in addition to retaining soil moisture.
Santa Barbara is currently leading Southern California in terms of most water conserved. The state has asked Santa Barbara to reduce its water usage by 16%, but the city is committed to reducing water consumption by as much as 25%. The city’s water conservation program sends volunteers to inspect homes to help residents program sprinklers and improve irrigation, as well as identifying any interior leaks.
While other cities are taking similar precautions as Santa Barbara, the effects have been less pronounced. Some experts theorize that this is because Santa Barbara went through a similar drought in the late 1980s, and is more prepared to deal with this type of weather. While Santa Barbara currently receives water from Northern California, it may reintroduce a lawn-watering ban if the drought continues to worsen.