Both the city of Sacramento and Sacramento County are urging residents to reduce water use by 20% to conserve water in California’s continued drought.
But what does reducing water use by 20% look like, practically? How can it be measured in your daily life?
The Sacramento Bee talked to spokesman Carlos Eliason with Sacramento’s Department of Utilities for useful, achievable tips residents can use to reduce their water use in their everyday routine.
Cut your water use by 20%
First, conserving water looks different for everyone.
Eliason said people living in single-family homes use the most water, particularly outdoors — and especially on their grass. And it makes sense because homeowners water their grass, landscapes, outdoor plants, trees and more.
“Reducing water use by person is going to look very very different depending on a person’s lifestyle, whether they live in an apartment, whether they live in a home,” he said.
The ‘10-minute rule’
Eliason goes by the “10-minute rule,” analogy mainly because it’s “easy math,” but the time can be tweaked to any water activity. In his example, if a resident typically waters their lawn for 10 minutes, conserving water by 20% would mean watering for eight minutes instead.
The same applies to your showers.
But there’s no concrete rule to conserve water, rather “give a little hear and take a little there” to not only save water but be more efficient. Here’s what Eliason said residents can do in their everyday routine to reach an overall reduction of 20%:
- Use a sprinkler cycle.
- Cut shower times.
- Wash full loads of laundry.
- Run a full dishwasher load.
- Fill the sink with soapy water to wash dishes instead of running water continuously.
Here are a couple of tips to save water during the drought, according to Regional Water Authority’s Be Water Smart website:
Your grass can get brown but your trees shouldn’t
A biker peddles down a Sacramento neighborhood where several of its lawns are brown. Randall Benton [email protected]
A tree’s importance is planted in its range of benefits including shade, oxygen, better air quality, less erosion and pollution and more.
“Lawns can get a little stressed, a little bit more brown in the summer time,” Eliason said. “The important thing is we want people to water their trees.”
In Sacramento, trees provide shade for homes and buildings, helping to reduce energy consumption and because drought has killed millions of California’s trees — Eliason said the city is putting an emphasis on its canopy. An idea: Cut your lawn watering time in half and use some of that water time for the trees.
“You can get water reductions by using water more efficiently,” he said.
What are current water restrictions in the city of Sacramento?
Sacramento is in a “water alert,” meaning it’s asking for 20% reductions and waste fines double. Here’s what the water restrictions look like for both city residents and businesses, according to the city’s drought conditions page:
People are only allowed to wash their cars with a shutoff nozzle and on watering days.
People with even-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays and Sundays and people with odd-numbered addresses can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays
Typical fines for wasting water in the city of Sacramento range from $50 to $1,000.
What are Sacramento County water rules?
As part of Sacramento County’s emergency conservation regulations, all county residents, businesses and statewide water supplies must follow these rules, according to Sacramento County’s water resources page:
- Don’t use safe drinking water to wash sidewalks and driveways.
- Avoid irrigation runoff when using safe drinking water. Don’t use hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars.
- Don’t use safe drinking water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water.
- Avoid outdoor irrigation during and 48 hours following measurable rainfall.
WHAT ABOUT BUSINESSES?
Businesses are required to do the following, according to Sacramento County’s website:
- Food service establishments must serve water to customers on request.
For rules on hotels and motels, visit Sacramento County’s water resources page.
WHAT ABOUT WATER SUPPLIERS?
Water suppliers must do the following, according to Sacramento County’s website:
Impose restrictions on outdoor irrigation
- Notify customers about leaks that are within the customer’s control
- Report on water use monthly
- Report on compliance and enforcement
What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our California Utility Team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email [email protected]
This story was originally published June 4, 2022 5:00 AM.
Related stories from Sacramento Bee
Brianna Taylor is a reporter on The Sacramento Bee’s utility desk. A former Bee intern, Brianna also reported in Missouri and Maryland. She is a graduate of Morgan State University.