When the El Dorado Irrigation District asked its customers to reduce water use 30 percent many customers thought EID would be checking their meters and making a list of who’s naughty and nice. Put your mind at ease. That ain’t going to happen. No. 1, they only have enough staff to read them every other month. And if it snows in Pollock Pines any meters that aren’t remote transmitter replacements will get estimated.
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The only way EID has of measuring water consumption on a daily basis is by how much water demand is placed on its water treatment plants. That is where the individual efforts to save water will show up as a collective total.
January, which was, hot and dry until Jan. 29-30 rain, set a record for water consumption districtwide. Demand for water from EID’s treatment plants shot up 27 percent above the three-year average.
For the record, the average daytime temperature recorded in January at our Ray Lawyer Drive weather station was 73.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That compares with the average of 58.1 degrees between 1999 and 2010 plus 2014 (We did not have a thermometer from 2012 to 2013 when PG&E suddenly stopped giving us temperature readings). The average overnight temperatures were more normal — 36.7 degrees.
That heat caused a lot of people to irrigate their landscaping in January.
Feb. 4 the EID board declared a Stage 2 Water Warning and the “Existence of an Emergency.” The declaration proved effective, since it rained overnight Feb. 5 and is expected to continue through Sunday.
February is cooler and with the rain, water consumption will drop significantly.
What the board is asking is that people voluntarily conserve. For those who already are conserving, try saving just a little bit more. For those who aren’t, achieving 30 percent water conservation is possible. One EID customer called us from Pollock Pines and wondered how he could save 30 percent since he didn’t have a lawn and didn’t have any outside landscaping to water. Obviously, that person is already conserving water. He just needs to find a few ways to reduce household water use.
Here are some tips from EID on how to save water. First off, EID will provide you with a low flow shower head and an aerator to attach to your water faucet. Low flow aerators on bathroom faucets will save 25 gallons per week. Low flow shower heads will save 210 gallons per week. If you are dedicated enough to take a Navy shower, you could easily double that. Navy showers while at sea mean wet yourself with the shower, then turn it off while you soap up, then turn it on again to rinse the soap off.
EID says changing the shower time from 10 minutes to five minutes for a three-person household will save 263 gallons a week.
Wash only full loads in the clothes washer to save 210 gallons a week (assuming seven loads a week).
Don’t leave water running while rinsing dishes to save 175 gallons a week.
Turn off the water when brushing your teeth (or shaving) and save 210 gallons a week in a three-person household.
Fix leaky faucets and leaky toilets and save 357 gallons between the two.
Finally, “Don’t use the toilet as a waste basket” and save 67 gallons a week in a three-person household.
Toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush. If you only flush for the brown stuff, you can add 1.6 gallons of water savings each time someone in your house goes tinkle and doesn’t flush. Figure that’s good for another 67 gallons a week.
Run the dishwasher only when full to save 13 gallons a week.
The total saving from EID’s suggestions are — including only filling the tub halfway for a bath — add up to 1,689 gallons of indoor use and that adds up to 15 percent savings on 1,500 cubic feet of water. That 1,500 cubic feet of water converts to 11,220 gallons of water. To save 30 percent of 1,500 cf will mean saving 3,336 gallons. That’s going to have to come from outside use. Consult a landscape artist who can convert your lawn to a Zen garden with raked gravel and some minimal xeriscape plantings (xeros is a Greek word for dry). For those with computers, Google xeriscape and look at all the photos of different xeriscape designs. They are pretty good looking, and, no, you don’t have to have gravel and cactus plants in your front yard like they do in Arizona.
We can all do our part. Some may hit the 30 percent mark, some 20 percent, some 15 percent, some less. It all depends on how much water you were using before and how much less you can use now. EID isn’t going to be looking at your bill. EID will just be looking at how much water is demanded at its water treatment plants.
You can find out how much water you have used in your current billing cycle compared to what you used in the same billing cycle a year ago by looking at the bar graph on the back of your bill.