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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.

Valencia Water Resource Conservation Manager Matt Dickens installed a sprinkler drip system on the hillside of his home in Saugus, eliminating water waste. 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




EgbertSouse4U: Posted: May 7, 2014 12:34 p.m.

And what is the city doing to reduce their consumption? Why are they still installing new landscaping that requires water? And how about the developers for all of the new housing tracts? Anything? Anything? How about all the phony waterfalls and waterscapes in front of Bridgeport and Stevenson Ranch that do nothing? Maybe we can bathe in the fountains....

17trillion: Posted: May 7, 2014 1:28 p.m.

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

High efficiency toilets=flushing more than once
high efficiency shower=twice as long to shower
high efficiency faucets=what the hell is that?
high efficiency clothes washer=don't clean for (you know what), and I have one.

This real idiocy is that I replaced ground cover on my side yard, about 500 sq feet, with bark last summer but will I get credit for the reduction? Nooooooo! Does anyone know a high efficiency teenage girl that I can trade in for my model who thinks anything less than a 20 minute shower is cruel?

rogerwhite: Posted: May 7, 2014 2:19 p.m.

So they decide to impose this now when they should have seen the writing on the wall months or even a year ago? What about the folks who have already taken extreme measures to conserve over the past 6 to 12 months while others continue to hose down their driveways and leave sprinklers on all night? How, or rather "will" the water police take such actions, or inactions into consideration from a standpoint or fairness across the board? Those who have already intiated conservation efforts by spending a significant anount of $$$ and simply having family discusions over the past year or so about the importenace of water conservation will by the ulitmate sacrificers (losers).

stray: Posted: May 7, 2014 4:01 p.m.

@17 - "High efficiency faucets = what the hell is that?"

Basically, it's a faucet designed to slow down the amount of water that flows out. These specific faucets slow down the water flow to about 1.5 gallons per minute - as opposed to others which allow a faster flow rate and dump out over 2 gallons per minute. The theory is the same as your shower head. I'll now exaggerate here... Instead of the shower water coming down at you at a hundred miles an hour, the "efficient" shower heads restrict and slow the water flow so that it comes down at ya about 50 miles an hour - thus saving gallons of water.

I agree with your point on the efficient toilets. Basically, when you do have stuff still unflushed, it does prompt you to flush again. What we do, is to simply hold down the toilet handle while it drains - because the theory is that we are using more water to do that, but we're NOT using as much water whereas we would be using when flushing twice. It takes a few extra moments to stand and hold the handle, but it beats waiting until the tank refills up and then flushing a second time. Give it a try...

stray: Posted: May 7, 2014 4:54 p.m.

Here's a possible solution... If an engineer were to design toilets and use this idea, it might be the way to go. Design a toilet with two different handles. Use the small handle to flush when you just pee (which barely uses 1.6 gallons of water), or use the second larger handle when you've pooped and require 2 gallons to rid the bowl of waste. Realistically, nobody is going to pee anywhere near a gallon or more of urine each and every time when using the toilet. And if you do pee over a gallon of urine, you have one heck of a bladder! On that same token, if you poop that much where you need to flush twice each and every time, you really must be full of $h*t !!!! :)

OK Mr. Dickens, you've just displayed YOUR method of saving water, now go design this toilet and patent it. Then, I'll send you my bill! When it becomes mandatory to install these water saving toilets in every new home, I want FREE water for the rest of my life. That, hopefully will be about 50-60 years from now!

LSSCV: Posted: May 7, 2014 4:56 p.m.

Atleast our local radio station posted something about the COC incident.

djrobx: Posted: May 7, 2014 5:01 p.m.

I've already worked hard to get my water usage low. My irrigation is now computer-controlled using weather data. I've replaced my toilets with dual-flush models. I closely monitor my sprinklers to ensure sprinkler heads are watering what they should. We don't take long showers. In the winter months, VWC declares us "super efficient".

I'm not saying I can't do more, but they had better not penalize homes who simply don't cut 20% of 2013's usage. That would not be fair to customers who have already gone through the exercise of maximizing their efficiency in 2013.

castaicjack: Posted: May 7, 2014 6:13 p.m.

We gotta do everything we can so we can have 20,000 more homes along the 126, 20,000 more homes up by Gorman and 1,045 more homes in Castaic.
Thank you.
PS: Remember to be the first on your block to brown-out. And only flush once. Be Personalize your reports and your sprinkler heads. Shower every other year. Buy more rocks. Find a stream and bathe in that. Stick your head in your neighbor's runoff. Grow a beard. Be water

stray: Posted: May 7, 2014 6:32 p.m.

I agree with everyone's comments... For those of us residents who have already installed these water saving methods, while continuing to conserve, we better NOT be penalized for our future usage when we're consuming almost the same as last year...

I'm certain that our community would like hear from anybody in our city council who might have some "insider information" about this 20% reduction. That includes you too Mr. Dickens. Apparently, our council members are so ashamed and disgusted over the METRO billboards that they cannot stop drinking spiked Kool-Aid to calm themselves down! So, that's why they refuse to speak up and give us their insight. We would also like to hear from you, Mr. Dickens, in whatever Valencia Water Company's decision might be towards customers' future consumption. What is the formula for pricing water going to be if someone is still consuming the same amount as last year's consumption ???

balld13: Posted: May 7, 2014 6:39 p.m.

Water wise? 20,000 homes approved west of the 5/126 interchange?. New medians requiring irrigation? Sanctuary cities for more people to live in California South and North of the SCV? Car washes galore at every other corner? Common sense has clearly left the building!

stray: Posted: May 7, 2014 7:29 p.m.

Here's a typical house in another state with drought problems... You can imagine how little water is consumed within the yards and hillsides. They did a great job with a nice decorative front and back yard! Only problem is the pool, but compared to another home's total water usage, I would bet that this is still way ahead of the game towards conservation.

You decide is SCV would look bad if we went this way...

ricketzz: Posted: May 8, 2014 6:10 a.m.

Car washes recycle water and are more efficient than washing in the driveway.

Nitesho: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:06 a.m.

"if it's yellow let it mellow if it's brown flush it down"

17trillion: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:57 a.m.

Screw that, nothing's going to mellow in my house.

missyJk: Posted: May 8, 2014 9:00 a.m.

i already conserve i am in the super efficiency dogs go to the groomers so they dont shower i take quick ones..i shut off the faucet when brushing my teeth and washing hands while i am soaping them..

stray: Posted: May 8, 2014 4:48 p.m.

crickets... No comments from the city council or water district...

mikesmouth: Posted: May 9, 2014 6:57 a.m.

Best thing I found was for my kids. They went from 15 minute shower to 8!!!

17trillion: Posted: May 9, 2014 8:20 a.m.

The above is a paid advertisement! My kids went from 15 to 8 too. All it requires is throwing a glass of cold water over the shower curtain and unlike Mike's idea, it's free!

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