[BAY FEATURE]Bay Area Drought Watch

BAY FEATURE

Coverage of California's looming water problem

California Drought 2014: Water Conservation at Home

By Christina Loren
|  Friday, Apr 4, 2014  |  Updated 6:24 PM PDT
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Drought conditions are forcing everyday Californians to adopt new lifestyle habits.  Christina Loren reports.

Drought conditions are forcing everyday Californians to adopt new lifestyle habits. Christina Loren reports.

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Drought conditions are forcing everyday Californians to adopt new lifestyle habits.

With the total amount of snow water coming from this year’s snow at about 30 percent of normal, we could be looking at several years of conservation requirements.

"When there's drought, everybody's short of water. The farmers, the cities, and the fish, and we need to try to balance conditions as much as possible for everyone so everyone needs to do their part to conserve,” said Janine Jones, interstate resources manager for the California Department of Water Resources.

But, before you can efficiently cut back on water usage, it’s important to first examine where you’re using it most.

"For most people, that will be most easily achieved through careful outdoor water use, because that's where a lot of residential water use occurs,” Jones said.

San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission is offering free household items and other incentives to help residents conserve.

“Call us to come out and do a free water-wise evaluation and one of our technicians will come out and do an indoor and outdoor assessment of your property,” said Julie Ortiz, SFPUC’s water conservation manager.

Simple ways to conserve water include reducing sprinkler usage, checking for leaks in plumbing, and limiting your time in the shower.

Taking a shorter shower can be difficult, but there are other things you can do to conserve and you may not notice the difference. For instance, if you switch out your regular shower head for a low-flow version, you’re saving up to a gallon of water per minute, and it’s an easy switch.

Former San Francisco mayor, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says he and his family are making an effort to conserve.

“We were able to use the excuse of the drought to get our 2- and 4-year-olds to take a bath together,” Newsom said. “They refused to take a bath together and now they know they need to take a bath together and we're doing it because of the drought.”

By cutting back on two loads of laundry per week, you’ll save around 40 gallons of water. This can make a difference in your monthly water bill, and you’ll simultaneously use less energy.

Cutting back now can alleviate some of the current strain of the drought and simultaneously protect our future water supply if drought conditions persist.

“All these things come down to one fundamental,” Newsom said, “and that is the precious nature of water in an arid and dry state that's getting more arid and more dry.”

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