- Is your toilet a water hog? Replacing an old 3½- To 8-gallon-per-flush toilet WITH a new 1.28-gallon-per-flush (or less) high-efficiency model could save thousands of gallons per year. If you are thinking of replacing a toilet, rebates may be available.
- Do you have a leaky faucet? A little drip may not seem like much, but a faucet that drips just five times a minute may be wasting more than 200 gallons of water a year.
- Do you leave the faucet running when you brush your teeth? Turn it off to save 70 gallons per month or more. You can also install water-saving faucet aerators to further reduce your faucet water use. if you don’t have water-saving aerators, Cal Water has them available at no charge to customers as part of our conservation kits.
- Do you like long showers? Even if you already have a high-efficiency showerhead, every minute you shorten your shower can save up to 75 gallons per month.
- Do you have an old washing machine? A high-efficiency clothes washer may use half the water and energy that a traditional washer uses. And don’t forget to only run full loads (in your dishwasher, too). If you are thinking of replacing an inefficient washing machine, rebates may be available.
- Conservation kits (including high-efficiency shower heads, shut-off hose nozzles, leak detection dye tablets, and more) can be ordered online.
- Rebates on qualified purchases of high-efficiency toilets and washing machines as well as other programs may be available in your area, so check the rebates page often.
- Have a suggestion for avoiding water waste? Send it to us!
- How “green” is your garden? By using native plants – plants that are used to our climate you may be able to reduce your outdoor water use significantly.
- Does your lawn need watering? A good way to check is to just step on the grass. If it springs right back up, you may not need to turn on the sprinklers. When it’s time to water, do it at dawn or dusk to reduce evaporation.
- Have you checked your sprinkler system lately? A sprinkler system can waste water if sprinkler heads are broken, automatic timers are not adjusted for rain, or hidden leaks are not detected.
- Can you avoid getting out the garden hose? A hose can use 10 gallons of water per minute. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, walkways, and driveways.
- Have a dirty car? Use a bucket of water instead of a hose to wash your car. Even better, take your car to a car wash that recycles its water.
- Have a suggestion for avoiding water waste? Send it to us!
It’s always been wise to conserve water in your home and garden. But in California today, conservation is more than just a good idea ? it’s essential. We need to stretch our water supplies to insure that there is enough water to serve everyone who needs it.
One of the best places to make significant reductions in water use is in your garden. People who live in urban areas use about half of their water outdoors. In the summer, garden water use climbs even higher as the weather gets hotter and drier.
Fortunately, you can save water in your garden without sacrificing the quality of your landscaping. By taking advantage of efficient irrigation techniques and using ornamental plants and ground covers that are suitable to long, dry summers, you can enjoy a beautiful landscape that requires significantly less water and maintenance than a less carefully designed one.
- Whenever possible, plant only low-water and drought-resistant plants.
- Limit the amount of area devoted to your lawn. Lawns need great quantities of water, particularly in the summer.
- Wait until fall or winter to install a new garden. New plantings require more water than established growth.
- Keep low-water plants away from “thirsty” plants. Mediterranean-zone plants can suffer if they are over watered as you care for their neighbors.
- Keep shade plants in the shade. This will help prevent them from drying out.
- Place water-loving plants at the bottom of slopes, where they will benefit from water runoff.
- Include mulch around shrubs and plants to help reduce evaporation, limit weed growth, moderate soil temperature, and prevent erosion.
More Outdoor Savings
- A good way to check if your lawn needs watering is to just step on the grass. If it springs right back up, you don’t need to turn on the sprinklers. When it’s time to water, do it at dawn or dusk to reduce evaporation.
- Check your sprinkler system regularly. A sprinkler system can waste water if sprinkler heads are broken, automatic timers are not adjusted for rain, or hidden leaks are not detected.
- A garden hose can use 10 gallons of water per minute. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, walkways, and driveways. When you do need the hose, use a nozzle to increase pressure and decrease water usage.
- Replace mulch around shrubs and plants at least once per year and remove weeds as needed.
Plants that are adapted to long, dry summers and short, rainy winters are called “Mediterranean-zone” plants. These include plants that are native to California, as well as those that originated in southern Europe, South America, and other “Mediterranean” climates. These plants don’t need much water in the summer and have thrived in water-scarce conditions for thousands of years.
The plants listed below are appropriate for California’s climate and use less water than what you may already have in your garden. This list is a good representation of low-water-consuming plants that are easily available. Check with your local nursery for its suggestions about what is best suited to your area.
Perennials, Shrubs, and Ornamental Grasses
- Agave species (Agave)
- Alyogyne huegelii (Blue Hibiscus)
- Arctostaphylos species (Manzanita)
- Artemisia species (Sagebrush)
- Ceanothus species (California Lilac)
- Chamelaucium uncinatum (Geraldton Waxflower)
- Cistus species (Rockrose)
- Dudleya species (Live Forever)
- Echeveria species (Hens-and-Chickens)
- Encelia californica (California Encelia)
- Galvezia speciosa (Island Bush Snapdragon)
- Grevillea species (Grevillea)
- Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)
- Lavandula species (Lavender)
- Leucophyllum species (Texas Ranger)
- Lobelia laxiflora (Mexican Bush Lobelia)
- Mahonia nevinii (Nevin’s Barberry)
- Melalueca nesophila (Pink Melaleuca)
- Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle)
- Nassella species (Needlegrass)
- Penstemon species (Penstemon)
- Rhus species (Sumac)
- Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
- Salvia, selected species (Sage)
- Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue-Eyed Grass)
- Tapetes lemmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy)
- Verbena, selected species (Verbena)
- Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)
- Chitalpa tashkentensis (Chitalpa)
- Geijera parviflora (Australian Willow)
- Laurus nobilis (Sweet Bay)
- Olea europaea ?Swan Hill’ (Swan Hill Olive)
- Pinus eldarica (Afghan Pine)
- Prosopsis chilensis (Chilean Mesquite)
- Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak)
- Rhus lancea (African Sumac)
- Bougainvillea species (Bougainvillea)
- Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cat’s Claw)
- Vitis californica (California Wild Grape)
- Buchloe dactyloides (Buffalograss)
- Cynodon dactylon (Hybrid Bermudagrass)
- Zoysia ?Victoria’ (Victoria Zoysiagrass)
- Acacia redolens ‘Desert Carpet’
- (Dwarf Prostrate Acacia)
- Achillea species (Yarrow)
- Baccharis species (Coyote Brush)
- Cotoneaster dammeri (Bearberry Cotoneaster)
- Lampranthus species (Ice Plant)
- Lantana montevidensis (Trailing Lantana)
- Myoporum parvifolium (Myoporum)
- Sedum species (Stonecrop)
Cal Water’s Conservation Demonstration Garden in Chico boasts crushed-rock walkways and a wheelchair-accessible wooden bridge. The garden includes two stone benches in quiet, shady spots, where visitors enjoy more than 110 kinds of trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers, ferns, and grasses. A large, colored reference and index map is on display, and brochures naming and locating the different beds and plants are available.
Designated beds have been specifically planted to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and showcase Butte County-native plants, sun-loving perennials, shade-loving ferns, ground covers, and a variety of grasses.
The Conservation Garden, located in the heart of scenic Chico at the corner of East First and Sheridan avenues, is open daily to visitors.
Chico’s Conservation Garden began in 1993, when Cal Water was contacted by a group of local landscape architects with an idea for a drought-tolerant demonstration garden. They hoped that Cal Water could provide a visible location for it. Station 34 seemed like the ideal spot, as it is located at a busy intersection and a freeway entrance.
The initial garden was completed in 1993 and expanded in 1997. In 2009, Cal Water partnered with Lifescapes ? a local landscaping maintenance company ? to help renew the entire site with additional drought-tolerant plants and a more effective watering system. The garden is considered to be a “work in progress” and will be updated every year to give our customers conservation ideas they can implement at home.
The Drought-Tolerant Conservation Demonstration Garden is included in the Bureau of Reclamation’s California’s Water-Wise Gardens web site .
California Water Service Company
2222 Dr. Martin L King Jr. Pkwy.
Chico, CA 95928
Hours: Always open
Size: One-quarter acre
From Highway 99 north
Exit East First Avenue and turn left. The garden is a half-block down on the left at the southeast corner of East First and Sheridan avenues.
From Highway 99 south
Exit East First Avenue. Turn right, then make an immediately left at Sheridan. The garden is on the left at the southeast corner of East First and Sheridan avenues.
Although apartments generally use less water than houses, in some ways apartment dwellers can do more to conserve water than homeowners. Think of it this way, if everyone in your building does a little something to save water, that small water savings is multiplied by the number of units. So if everyone saves just two gallons of water per day, your building may be saving 10, 50, or 100 gallons per day, depending on the number of units.
Some apartment dwellers pay their own water bills, and some do not. But whether or not you have an individual water bill, it benefits you to conserve water. Conservation helps keep water costs down, and water costs impact the price of necessities such as food (because farms use so much water) ? and rent.
- Even if you already have a low-flow showerhead, every minute you shorten your shower can save up to 75 gallons per month. And remember, there’s power in numbers ? if every apartment in a 15-unit building cut just one minute from their daily shower, that would be a savings of 1,125 gallons every month!
- Got a leaky faucet? Report leaks promptly to your building manager. A little drip may not seem like much, but a faucet that drips just five times per minute may be wasting more than 260 gallons per year.
- Do you leave the faucet running when you brush your teeth? Turn it off to save 70 gallons of water per month or more. You can also ask your building manager to install water-saving faucet aerators (available from Cal Water at no cost) to reduce your faucet water use even more.
- See a leaky sprinkler? An apartment building is a community, and what affects the building affects the tenants. If you see a leak ? from a broken sprinkler, washing machine, or pipe, for example ? report it immediately to your building manager.
- See room for improvement? Your building manager should also be notified if you see other types of water waste. For example, it’s best to water lawns when the sun is down to minimize evaporation, so you should inform your manager if an automated watering system’s timer seems to be off. You should also bring to your manager’s attention old, inefficient washing machines, gardeners who use water to clean walkways instead of sweeping them, and other sources of water waste.
- Have a suggestion for avoiding water waste? Send it to us!
As an education professional, you have a unique opportunity to promote water conservation in your community. You and every other person in your school are a resource ? a potential ambassador for conservation. Here are a few suggestions for your school.
- Teachers: Because they interact directly with students, teachers can be effective cheerleaders for conservation. They can seek out water conservation-related projects and activities to keep students aware of conservation and help make it fun. They can also watch for students wasting water ? by letting water fountains run or splashing water, for example ? and correct the behavior.
- Maintenance Staff: Maintenance employees know the school’s infrastructure and are in the best position to spot problems. In addition to responding to complaints about water leaks, they can also proactively search for water waste. This is particularly important in the case of “invisible” leaks, such as those in irrigation systems.
- Students: Students, by virtue of their number, are the “worker bees” of school conservation. They should be encouraged to promptly report leaks and other instances of water waste, and to share what they learn about conservation with their families to help spread the conservation message throughout the community.
- Water Service Providers: Cal Water and other water service providers have programs and materials available to assist schools with conserving water and educating students about water conservation. Contact your local water service provider for more information on what programs and materials are available in your area.
Conservation Organizations and Programs
- H20use – Water Saver Home
- California Urban Water Conservation Council
- Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency
- California Regional Environmental Education Community
- EPA Student Center
- EPA WaterSense
- North American Association for Environmental Education
- United States Geological Survey (USGS), Educational Resources
- USGS, Water Science for Schools
Affiliated Water Agencies
Depending on where you live, you may be subject to local water conservation ordinances. These ordinances were enacted by city government, vary from place to place, and may change over time.
Cities that have information available online about local water conservation ordinances are listed below. This information is provided as a reference for Cal Water customers and may not be exhaustive ? your city may not be listed, even if water conservation ordinances are in effect where you live. If you have any questions regarding these ordinances, including whether your city mandates water conservation, please contact your city government.
Click on an ordinance’s name for details. The link will open a new window; the pages they link to are not part of calwater.com.