City officials and water experts encourage residents to conserve water after second dry year in a row
On Jan. 7, the City of Davis offered winter water conservation tips for residents, a reminder to customers about the mandatory water-use restrictions still in place and an update on the city’s water system on their website.
The press release reminded residents to check appliances and fixtures around the home for unusual water usage.
“Toilets are the most common leak in the home,” the press release reads. “Other indoor leaks include faucets and showerheads, hot water leaks in slab foundations and water softeners running continuously.”
The press release urged residents to reduce outdoor as well as indoor water use.
“With shorter days and cooler temperatures in the winter, residents’ landscape needs less water, even if there is a lack of rain,” the press release reads. “Be sure to water with the weather; shorten the amount of time and or/number of days watering and turn your irrigation system off when it rains.”
“During the last declared drought, the City enacted additional conservation regulations that have remained in place to present,” Calciano said via email. “Some of the restrictions include: No watering outdoors during 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., no watering during periods of rain or for 48 hours after measurable rainfall [and] no excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement.”
Calciano explained that the city’s online water use portal, AquaHawk, is one example of how conservation efforts at the local level are uniquely positioned to focus on the needs, programs and services of a specific area.
“AquaHawk allows water customers to view daily and hourly water usage as well as set and receive usage alerts,” Calciano said. “The messaging in water conservation is tailored to our environment which is why our conservation tips include water-wise landscaping recommendations that will thrive in the valley.”
Faculty professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist in Water Resources Samuel Sandoval Solis explained that California’s water crisis has to do with its unpredictable weather patterns.
“The reality is that conditions in California are becoming bimodal,” Sandoval Solis said. “There is no normal in California. There are two different conditions—the first where it rains a lot, and the second where it doesn’t. We were in a drought for five years, then we had a wet year, but the problem is that we’ve had two dry years back-to-back.”
Solis explained that the recent rain does not mean an end to California’s water problem.
“When it rains a lot, it doesn’t mean the aquifers and reservoirs fill,” Sandoval Solis said. “All the water gets caught in the river and goes to the ocean—the water cannot be stored.”
Due to this inability to store water and the uncertainty of future rains, Solis explained that we need to make water conservation a part of our daily lives.
“It takes time to pass legislation, so doing our part by reducing our water consumption is the cheapest, most affordable way to practise the philosophy of water conservation in our everyday lives,” Solis said. “Take shorter showers. Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Don’t open faucets all the way when washing your hands and brushing your teeth.”
Sandoval Solis also offered additional tips for outdoor water-conservation practices.
“Irrigate your trees properly,” Solis said. “Sacrifice things like flowers and vegetable gardens. You will save more water going to your favorite organic store or farmers market [than growing your own].”
Solis explained that while we still need to change, he has hope for the future.
“There are few things in life that are certain, but one of these is that a drought is coming, so we have to be prepared and change our mindsets,” Solis said.
Recent UC Davis graduate and hydrology major Erica Edwards explained via email that the relative scarcity of water and unsustainable water practices has, in some cases, caused irreparable damage.
“Of all the freshwater available to humans, groundwater accounts for more than 90%,” Edwards said. “The pattern of taking more [than] nature can replenish is not unique to fossil fuels. Because California failed to regulate groundwater until 2014, there are many areas where groundwater overdraft causes land subsidence, and the damage to the aquifer is irreversible.”
Despite this, Edwards, who hopes to pursue a career in groundwater resource sustainability, is nevertheless hopeful for the future of water conservation.
“While regionally we are at the mercy of a warming climate, there is plenty of water in the global hydrologic system,” Edwards said. “It is more an issue of moving it to where it is needed, not polluting it and not wasting it.”
Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — email@example.com