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Hey, Los Angeles: There’s a Drought Here, Too

Water Usage in Los Angeles

Back in July, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 15%. In Los Angeles, the usage actually increased by 1%. In fact, the State Water Resources Control Board surveyed 376 cities and water districts to find only 26, or 7%, met or exceeded the target of 15% reduction.

Healdsburg and Cloverdale located in Sonoma County cut back 54% and 37% respectively. The City of Chino located in San Bernardino County was the only SoCal city in the top 5, cutting back 36%. Colton, also located in San Bernardino County, hit the top 10 with a 24% reduction.

“This drought is very serious,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources. “In particular, how quickly it has developed. So we need people to be paying attention and acting now.”

How much you’re using

According to the United  States Geological Survey (USGS), the average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water each day. Studies show the average Angeleno uses approximately 78 gallons. Neighbors within Los Angeles County consume even more per day: Glendale (89 gallons), Burbank (111 gallons), and Beverly Hills (135 gallons).

To understand how every drop starts to add up to 78 gallons, consider the day of one male Los Angeles resident:

  • Morning shower of 10 minutes = 50 gallons
  • Shave = 1 gallon
  •  Brushing teeth = 1 gallon
  •  Four glasses of  (8 ounces) of water = .25 gallon
  • Flush toilet 4 times = 12 gallons
  • Wash hands approximately 12 times = 12 gallons

These tasks alone add up to 76.25. Factor in water used for making coffee, tea, or cooking and there’s a total of 78 gallons.

But even more water is used when you add in a dishwasher full of dishes (6-16 gallons) and a load of laundry (25-40 gallons).

Have a pet? Add another .25 gallons for each animal.

Add a spouse (75 gallons) and two kids (150 gallons) and suddenly, there’s more than 300 gallons for a family of four without factoring in a car wash or watering the plants and lawn. 

In this instance, to reduce that 15% that is requested, it’s necessary to save 45 gallons of water each day.

Where to start saving

We’re all aware of the reminder to turn off the faucet when brushing our teeth. Drop by drop, this helps save a half gallon or more of water. The same amount can be saved if the faucet is off when shaving. It’s also helpful to replace old faucets that use more than 2 gallons a minute with newer ones that pour out about 1 gallon per minute. (Savings = 1.5 gallons per person / 6 gallons per family per day)

Keeping showers under 5 minutes can save 12.5 gallons per shower when using a water-efficient showerhead. Since a bath uses about 36 gallons, get the kids to take a shower instead and save approximately 16 gallons. (Savings = 12.5 gallons per person / 50 gallons per family per day)

Better yet, if each person in the family skipped one 5-minute shower each week, instead of using a total of 1050 gallons of water for a week’s worth of showers, you could reduce it to 900 gallons.

Old washing machines use about 40 gallons of water. Update it to an EnergyStar model that only uses 25 gallons and also saves electricity, which is important because the power to seven states is in jeopardy due to low water levels no longer allowing turbines to work properly. (Savings = 15 gallons per load)

Older toilets use between 3 to 4 gallons per flush. Switching to a newer model helps save about 1.6 gallons per flush. (Savings = 1.6 gallons per person / 6.4 gallons per family per day for each flush; saving approximately 6.4 gallons per person / 25.6 gallons per family per day ) 

If you put a bucket in your shower each morning and catch the water as it warms up, you could save enough to use for two flushes. (Total savings for toilet flushes = 12.8 gallons per person / 51.2 gallons per family per day)

Another huge water saver is an often overlooked task of fixing leaky toilets and dripping showers and faucets. Repairing these can lead to saving 3.6 gallons per day.

We’re all in this together

Even though California has been through other droughts, this one is different. The Rebuild SoCal Partnership knows it’s time to start thinking outside the box to address urgent water infrastructure needs. We support diverse solutions and urge a variety of water conservation tips.

In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown issued the first mandatory statewide water restrictions in state history. Residents came close to meeting his 25% reduction goal, with Californians using 24.5% less. It’s vital for everyone to do their part now to reduce the amount of water they use before this voluntary water reduction again turns mandatory. 

Stay up-to-date on these issues by signing up for the Rebuild SoCal Partnership newsletter. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and  listen to The Rebuild SoCal Zone podcast.


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