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Angeleno exemplifies water-wise ways

June 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles is in such a drought that the entire city is now under an emergency water-conservation plan. One L.A. homeowner is already saving so much water that she barely has a water bill.Renee Gunter's yard is the only certified wildlife habitat in south Los Angeles. Gunter is very proud of it.

"I love coming home to my house," says Renee. "It's so beautiful."

It's not only beautiful -- Renee's wildlife habitat saves water and saves her money. It is made up entirely of drought-tolerant plants and doesn't need a sprinkler system.

Renee says she hasn't had to water her garden for almost two years. So guess what her water bill is?

"It averages about 10 dollars," says Renee. "Ten dollars a month."

Because her water bills are so incredibly low, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) thought there was something wrong with her water meter, so they installed a new one -- but it didn't change a thing.

Renee is a landscape designer and now has some of her neighbors in the process of transforming their yards to save water.

But conserving water at the Gunter household is an "inside job" too.

"In the kitchen I found that what works best is, when I'm washing dishes -- I wash the dish, but I have a bucket that holds the water, and I wash my dishes, rinse, and put them away," said Renee. "This helps to save water because I'm not running the water while I'm washing dishes. Because this water [in the bucket] is bio-degradable, and I'm using soaps that are bio-degradable, then I can actually water a plant. I don't waste anything."

Don't think you can live like this? Well, let's take a look at Renee's water bill: For two months, it's only $20.61. Think you could live with that?

Since many people probably won't go to the extremes that Renee has gone to, there are still plenty of ways to conserve water.

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