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Calif. drought spurs caution on water use

Local committee asks residents to reduce consumption by 20 percent

Posted: February 7, 2014 9:34 p.m.
Updated: February 7, 2014 9:34 p.m.

It’s unanimous: In light of the current drought, Santa Clarita Valley residents need to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent.

True, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee that directed residents to cut water use this week didn’t impose enforcement measures — yet.

And Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent is just that — voluntary — at least for now.

But most water experts say it’s better to act now to ease demands on tapped-out water supplies, thus reducing the need to impose mandatory restrictions later.

The good news is that a storm is due to hit Northern California this weekend, which could help the nearly nonexistent Sierra Nevada snowpack from which Southern California, including the Santa Clarita Valley, derives much of its water.

But experts say that can do little to make up for this so-far-bone-dry winter and for 2013, which state officials say is the driest year on record.

State officials announced this week that state agencies are taking the lead in water-saving measures, shutting down all water features on state-owned property, eliminating all car washes in state garages and even canceling contracts for water-intensive window washing.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, restaurants have been directed not to serve water unless customers request it under the first phase of the SCV Water Committee’s drought action plan. The Fire Department has been directed to cease “flushing” fire hydrants.

But how does an SCV resident go about reducing his or her water consumption by 20 percent?

Each water agency in the Santa Clarita Valley has water-saving tips on its website, and an Internet search of “water saving tips” turns up literally hundreds of responses.

Residents with yards should know their gardens, and especially lawns, are usually the biggest water-user in the household.

At the same time, homeowner association restrictions may dictate well-kept lawns and may limit the types of other plants that can be used.

Tips on plants that don’t gulp water by the gallon can be found at a good local nursery or online through a search of “xeroscape,” but a cactus garden, for example, may not pass muster in a Valencia HOA-governed neighborhood.

Residents who live in such neighborhoods should ask their HOAs about restrictions on plantings before making major changes in their gardens.

Water-efficient irrigation systems help reduce garden usage without tearing out lawns and are available at any home-improvement store and larger nurseries.

But tearing up sprinkler systems isn’t cheap, either.

Meantime, the SCV Water Committee offered these less costly outdoor water-reduction guidelines:

• Use mulch on exposed dirt to lessen evaporation.

• Water during optimal watering hours of 2-6 a.m. to avoid wind and evaporation. Adjust run times to minimum values.

See the Watering Guide on for samples of irrigation schedules.

• Use pool and spa safety covers or evaporation-reducing water treatments if safe and appropriate for the situation.

• Use a hose equipped with an automatic shutoff nozzle when washing a car.

• Sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots or any other hard-surfaced areas should not be washed down.

Indoor water-saving tips largely involve reviewing the consumer’s habits and considering changes. For example, if one showers until the water runs cold, it’s an indication that shorter showers should be considered.

Constantly running toilets or faucets can fritter away water by the gallons and should be repaired.

Installing low-flow aerators in bathroom and kitchen sinks and low-flow shower heads in the shower is a relatively easy measure for indoor water conservation.

Running only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines is a common-sense solution.

Check out the website for more than 100 ways to save water both indoors and outdoors.



ricketzz: Posted: February 8, 2014 6:42 a.m.

20% compared to what? What if we already have cut water use to the bone? What if we are way ahead of the "turn-on-a-dime" city muckymucks?

You do not need to tear anything up to change a sprayer on in-ground watering systems; the spray heads unscrew and are standardised fittings. If you need to add more heads it is still a fairly easy job if you are good with hand tools.

Same goes for turning flower beds into "drip" irrigation; like playing with Tinker Toys. (NOTE: there is a "how to" video on YouTube for virtually every task under the broiling hot sun).

Can I water the grapes with what my dishwasher spits out? Is laundry grey water OK for Saint Augustine? I use zero phosphate borax based detergent. No chlorine either.

UsualSuspect: Posted: February 8, 2014 9:34 a.m.

My water bill is 40% less than my neighbors on average. They try and figure out how we do it. Does this mean I need to cut another 20%? I have low flow faucets and shower heads, turn off water when brushing, only wash full loads of clothes, drip irrigation, drought friendly plants and a satellite based irrigation controller. Where do they suggest we save? If they tell me I need to shave another 20%, there is no where to shave it from, I doubt sponge baths will do it. They need to look at the square footage, and number of occupants, then come up with a number of gallons, a blanket 20% for everyone does not work for everyone. I also notice they are banking on a wetter than normal second half of winter, which odds are will not happen, so now they go back and wait, no planning for the rest of the year, nor forward thinking of what if this continues into next year and there is no rain, or the year after? The Water folks are as bad as the State, don't save anything for the long term, nor plan ahead. --edited.

garyr: Posted: February 8, 2014 9:58 a.m.

"Can I water the grapes with what my dishwasher spits out? Is laundry grey water OK for Saint Augustine?"

Legally yes. In reality it differs from plant to plant. Start with our already very hard water and add soap/detergent and you have a TDS number that's too high for many plants.

For converting sprinkler to drip don't forget the water pressure. My street pressure is 115 psi which would self destruct drippers instantly. The house pressure regulator drops it to the 60 psi needed to keep faucets from exploding, but still too high for drippers. Lowes has the farm grade regulators (black/white about 4" long) that are spring loaded and output the 30 psi that's the max they are rated to handle. Use them, and not the junk things that the dripper companies sell.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: February 8, 2014 12:22 p.m.

Just three months ago, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Valley Industry Association actually recommended that millions of gallons per day of our unique and obviously quite precious Deep Saugus Aquifer Groundwater be GIVEN AWAY FOR FREE to limited interest water users to the west of us.

These organizations did this as their "solution" to the chloride fraud. The water give away was an integral part of Sanitation District EIR Alternative four, which all these entities endorsed. Can anyone imagine what a crisis we would be in now, if in addition to having our allocation of water from the State Water Project terminated, we had actually gone ahead and given away part of our ground water also?

Do not believe the "grab" for our ground water is over.

After the Sanitation District chose alternative 2 instead of alternative 4, I was present at a Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing, where two "officials" from Ventura County water interests actually asked this water board to order that Santa Clarita give them some of our Saugus groundwater to "dilute" the chloride "problem" they still insist they have.

The water board postponed any action on this request until March of this year.

Perhaps our local media would like to report this on this story, since March is now only days away.

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