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Valencia Water Company: Down to the gallon

Retailer offers specifics for 20 percent water use reduction

Posted: May 7, 2014 12:19 p.m.
Updated: May 7, 2014 12:20 p.m.

High-efficiency rotor sprinkler heads can save up to 20 percent of water usage per year compared to traditional sprinkler heads, water officials say. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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For water company customers who respond “How much is that?” when told to reduce consumption by 20 percent, Valencia Water Company says it has the exact answer.

The water retailer, one of four in the Santa Clarita Valley, is notifying customers this week that they will soon receive a “personal drought report” specifying exactly how much water they need to save this year to meet 20 percent reductions.

The Santa Clarita Water Committee ordered 20 percent reductions in water use last February, and Gov. Jerry Brown has called for the same reductions statewide due to California’s unprecedented drought.

But for many residents, the question has been “Exactly how much is a 20 percent reduction for my household?”

That’s the question it’s set out to answer with individualized water charts that customers will find in their water bills. They will provide “exact targets” — expressed in gallons — for the amount of water they must conserve to meet the 20 percent goal.

“We want to show customers what 20 percent water reduction means,” Valencia’s Resource Conservation Manager Matt Dickens told The Signal.

Once the personalized drought program is up and running, customers will be able to compare monthly water use against what they used in 2013.

“For example, if you used 200 units of water in 2013, then you need to save 40 units,” Dickens said.

Each unit of water — the measurement used by the water district to determine billing — is equal to 748 gallons. Households trying to conserve 40 units of water in 2014 would need to conserve 29,920 gallons, or 575 gallons every week on average.

High efficiency
To meet his personal 20 percent goal, Dickens converted his own house in Saugus into a high-efficiency water-managing machine with state-of-the-art “green” plumbing.

“I have a high-efficiency toilet, a high-efficiency shower, high-efficiency faucets and a high-efficiency clothes washer,” he said proudly.

Customers wanting to follow Dickens’ example can receive up to 25 free high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles, as well as rebates for other irrigation system improvements and for purchasing high-efficiency clothes washers.

‘Lawn limbo’
However, customers who don’t want to invest in new plumbing fixtures and appliances can implement a couple of immediate and “easy” water conservation tactics of their own to meet a 20 percent reduction. Dickens said.

“They can do the lawn limbo,” he said. That means customers can reduce their lawn sprinkler system to the point where their lawns begin to turn brown.

“Lawn limbo basically means ‘How low can you go?’ before your plants start to disappear,” Dickens said. “Finding that balance is different for everybody.”

The typical Valencia Water Company single-family household will find that a 20 percent reduction means saving between 500 and 725 gallons a week.

“Our goal with this customized report is to give customers real numbers to work with in order to answer the governor’s call to save water,” said Keith Abercrombie, Valencia Water Company’s general manager.

“We hope to show customers — in terms of actual gallons — what a 20 percent reduction really means.”

The reports will also give customers specific tips on ways to reduce their weekly or monthly water use.

Cutting back
According to the company, reducing irrigation times, taking shorter showers, using only full loads for laundry and dishes, turning off the faucet when washing hands or brushing teeth, and installing a weather-based irrigation controller can easily add up to 700 or more gallons saved a week.

Fixing leaks can save large quantities of water. About 10 percent of all homes have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons or more a day.

One leaking toilet can waste between 200 and 6,000 gallons a day. Replacing a worn toilet flapper costs $5 and takes about five minutes.

“Valencia Water Company customers have responded to previous drought emergencies,” Dickens said. “Although we see some signs of a positive response this year, most people still have a ways to go to reach 20 percent.”

“It’s all in the data. Customers who say they are doing everything possible to save water have discovered — through the extra wealth of water information we now provide — that they can easily save even more without impacting their lifestyle,” Dickens said.

“The data is the starting point to come up with your own game plan to meet the 20 percent target.”
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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