Written by Andrew Gard, CCKA Legal Intern from Lewis & Clark Law School
Saturday, July 25th, is Swimmable California Day! This day celebrates all California rivers, streams, beaches, and swimming holes for everyone to enjoy and cool off on hot days.
As California’s population continues to grow, it is important to reflect on how conserving water at home can protect this holiday and California’s waterways now and for years to come. Increased demand on our rivers has reduced the flow of water for fish and other wildlife – all to store water in our reservoirs. Unfortunately, decreasing the flow of water into our rivers harms the environment, intensifies water pollution, and exacerbates harmful algal blooms that can make people sick and are deadly for dogs. These issues harm both the wildlife that call these waterways home and the people that rely on our rivers.
To reduce our reliance on our reservoirs and rivers, and ensure swimmable water for all of California – here’s a list of ways to conserve water in and around your home during these hot summer months:
- Fix it. Detect and fix any leaks inside and outside your home – this will not only save your sanity from listening to a toilet run or faucet drip, but save precious water from being wasted!
- Turn off the tap. Install high-efficiency shower heads, toilets, and sink faucets to cut back on water use, and don’t let the water run when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hands.
- Remove your turf. Lawns are thirsty and account for over half the water used in California homes. Remove your turf and you can qualify for statewide and local rebate programs that support beautiful yards with less water!
- Plant wisely. Research your local ecology and place in your garden or yard plants that are drought-resistant and require less regular watering.
- Store it. Instead of letting the kitchen faucet run while the water heats up or cools, collect the water in a jug and store it in the refrigerator. You can also collect water while your shower warms up and use that water for plants or to flush your toilet to cut down on wasted water.
- Don’t wash your car at home. Instead of washing your car at home, take it to a carwash that recycles its water. Not only does this prevent harmful toxins from flowing into your nearby storm drain, but the automated wash uses, on average, less water than washing the car at home – many carwashes in California capture and reuse water.
- Sweep – don’t soak – your sidewalk. When cleaning your sidewalk or driveway, remember to use a broom instead of hosing it down. Sweeping the pavement cuts down on water usage and also prevents harmful toxins stuck on the pavement from washing into the local stormwater drain.
- Irrigate when it’s cool. When watering your yard or garden, be sure to do so in the early morning or evening to allow more water to reach the roots of the plants instead of evaporating on the surface.
- Mulch it. Wherever possible place mulch down around trees, plants, and shrubs. Mulching the soil helps prevent evaporation which helps the plants absorb more water to promote their health and growth.
- Collect it. Attaching rain barrels to downspouts is an excellent way to collect water and save it for a not-so-rainy day!
As the summer continues to heat up, it’s important to remember where our water comes from. The water taken out of our rivers and reservoirs not only affects our financial wellbeing – but also directly impacts our local ecology and environment.
If we want to enjoy a swimmable California, we must start by reducing the water used inside and around our home. Using these water-wise tips is one important step we can all take to protect the waters and rivers we love today and for decades to come.