8 simple ways to save water as California faces worst drought in decades

MARIN CO., Calif. (KABC) -- With California facing the worst drought in decades, it's time we start cutting back on our water consumption.

For longtime Californians, this is nothing new. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth? Yep, got it. Take shorter showers? Check. Only run the dishwasher if it's full? Of course.

But there are many more water saving hacks that we all should be thinking about in the months to come.

"Typically we see demand double in the summer months, so we really want to make sure that people understand the importance of conservation," Jeanne Mariani-Belding, a spokesperson with the Marin Water District, told ABC7 News. "Simple changes really do make a difference."

Tip #1: Use a bucket


A long known tip is to use a large bucket to capture water that's usually wasted while warming up your shower. That water can then be used for other things around your house like watering plants.

Mariani-Belding also suggests doing the same thing while washing your fruits and vegetables in the sink.

Tip #2: Check for leaks


Small leaks in your home irrigation can result in tons of wasted water.

"A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day," Tia Lebherz from the California Water Efficiency Partnership told ABC7 News. "So fixing leaks fast is super important."

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Tip #3: Download the Flume app


Both Lebherz and Mariani-Belding recommend using the Flume app, which can track your home water usage.

"It's a device you can strap right on to your water meter and it sends all of your water info to your phone," Lebherz said. "And if you have a continuous use, it will ping you and say, 'Hey, it seems like you might have a leak.'"

"It's a great way to get to know your water use better and also a great way to identify those leaks sooner," she added. Mariani-Belding said Marin County is also offering rebates, covering almost the entire cost of the app, to county residents who install it.

Tip #4: Use mulch or biochar


According to Lebherz, about 50% to 60% of residential water usage is used outside, which means outside irrigation is a huge place we all could be cutting back.

Planting with things like mulch or biochar, which can be bought at your local nursey, help prevent evaporation and thus require less water.

Tip #5: Water at night or morning


Mariani-Belding says it's also important to water your yard in the morning or at night instead of during the day.

"We suggest to water by hand," she said. "But we also suggest to water in the early morning or evening hours to prevent evaporation."

Tip #6: High efficiency shower


An easy tip is to get a high efficiency shower head that has a lower flow rate. "You can save tens of gallons of water depending on how much you shower and when," Lebherz said of the lower flow shower heads.

Tip #7: Lysol in your toilet?


Remember the old saying "if it's yellow let it mellow"? Well, it's still a great way of thinking about water conservation. Augie Venezia, president of Fairfax Lumber & Hardware, suggests pouring Lysol in your toilet. He says it will turn the water white and get rid of any scent so that you can flush your toilet less frequently.

Tip #8: Greywater irrigation


Greywater irrigation systems are new tools to help reuse water in your home. Some systems hook up to your laundry machine and allow you to reuse that water in your yard. Other systems retrofit your toilet into a sink.

Some counties, like Marin County, even offer rebates to people who do use these systems.

What not to do


Now that we know things we can do, what should we avoid?

"Definitely watering your side walks," Lebherz said. "Cement doesn't need our water."

Washing your car is also something experts suggest avoiding. "We tell people that having a dirty car at this time is a badge of honor," Mariani-Belding said. "Those things will really make a big difference."

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