Waste Not, Want Not

California is now in its third year of drought, yet recent estimates show that statewide, Californians use approximately 192 gallons of water per person per day. In comparison, after a seven-year drought brought reservoirs down to 15 percent capacity, water restrictions in Brisbane, Australia reduced individual use from 106 gallons per person a day, to 37 gallons per person a day. Below are the different levels of water restrictions that were enforced.

Brisbane’s seven levels of water restrictions:

Stage 1: Sprinklers limited to three days a week between 4-8 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. Hose watering of gardens limited to three days a week between 4-8 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. Hosing hard surfaces is prohibited. Topping-up pools limited to three times a week between 4-8 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.

Stage 2: Stage 1 restrictions continue to be enforced, but sprinklers are prohibited. Hose watering of gardens is limited to three days a week between 7 p.m.-7 a.m. Topping-up pools is limited to three days a week between 7 p.m.-7 a.m.

Stage 3: Stage 2 restrictions continue to be enforced. Hose watering of gardens is prohibited.

Stage 4: Stage 3 restrictions continue to be enforced. Bucket or can watering limited to three days a week between 4-8 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. Topping-up pools is limited to three days a week between 4-8 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. Pool filling requires approval.

Stage 5: Stage 4 restrictions continue to be enforced. Bucket or can watering limited to three days a week, but only between 4-7 p.m. Topping-up pools limited to three days a week between 4-7 p.m. Car/window washing: bucket only to wash mirrors, lights, and windows.

Stage 6: Stage 5 restrictions continue to be enforced. Sprinklers cannot be used.

Stage 7: No external water use without permit.

Brisbane’s current target is 53 gallons per person a day. With dam levels recently rising to 50 percent, water restrictions have now been eased to medium, or Stage 2 level.

In water conservation efforts a little closer to home, the city of Folsom has also implemented water restrictions. Folsom gets its domestic water supply from Folsom Lake, which is currently at 76 percent of capacity. The city is now in a Stage 3 water warning.

Folsom’s five levels of water restrictions:

Stage 1 - Basic Stage: Water cannot run off to adjoining property or into ditches and gutters; standard hose nozzles are prohibited-automatic shut-off devices must be used instead. All pools, spas, and ornamental fountains/ponds must be leak proof and equipped with a recirculation pump.

Stage 2 - Water Alert: (Mandatory water use reduction is up to 12 percent). Stage 1 restrictions are still enforced, but irrigation is limited to three days a week with the exception of drip irrigation. Residents with street addresses ending in odd numbers may irrigate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, while those addresses ending in even numbers are restricted to irrigating Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Washing of streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, buildings, or other hardscape surfaces is prohibited.

Stage 3 - Water Warning: (Mandatory water use reduction is up to 20 percent). Stage 2 restrictions are still enforced, but irrigation is reduced to two days a week with the exception of drip irrigation. Residents with odd numbered street addresses may irrigate on Tuesdays and Saturdays only, while even numbered addresses are restricted to Wednesdays and Sundays. No water from the city water system will be used for construction purposes unless the use is approved by the director.

Stage 4 - Water Crisis: (Mandatory water use reduction up to 35 percent). Stage 3 restrictions are still enforced, but irrigation-including drip irrigation-is limited to one day a week. Residents with odd numbered street addresses must irrigate on Tuesdays only while even numbered addresses are restricted to Wednesdays. Public and private streetscape landscaping must follow the same schedule. Water will not be used, or permits issued, to drain and refill swimming pools, artificial lakes, ponds, or streams. New or expanded landscaping on properties is limited to drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and ground cover. Washing of vehicles or equipment must be done on the lawn or at a commercial establishment. All water leaks shall be repaired within 24 hours of notification.

Stage 5 - Water Emergency: (Mandatory water use reduction up to 50 percent). Stage 4 restrictions continue to be enforced, but no irrigation is allowed. Flushing of sewers, fire hydrants, or fire protection systems is prohibited

To spur California’s water conservation efforts, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order in late February requesting all urban water users to reduce individual water use by 20 percent. Additionally, last year he set up a 20X2020 Agency Team on Water Conservation with the goal of reducing statewide water usage by 20 percent by the year 2020, resulting in Californians using an average of 154 gallons per person per day.