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Climate and Environment

We're In A Drought. Wondering How To Save Water? Here Are A Few Ideas

bushes, plants and flowers surround the exterior of a gray Craftsman house
A native plant garden at a home in Leimert Park seen during the 2020 Theodore Payne Garden Tour.
(Courtesy of the Theodore Payne Foundation)
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When it comes to saving water, big things and the little things matter.

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First, let’s take a look at how we use water (get ready for some numbers). Statewide, according to the California Department of Water Resources, about 80% of our water supply goes to agriculture. The rest goes to homes, businesses and industries — mostly in cities.

Here in L.A., the majority of our water is used in our homes and yards. According to 2019 data from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), residences use about 275 million gallons of water per day altogether. Commercial businesses and industry use about 126 million gallons per day in total.

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Each of us uses about 105 to 111 gallons of water per day, on average. But that number can vary significantly based on where you live. For example, according to state data, in February this year, people living in South Gate used on average only about 40 gallons of water per person per day. In contrast, during that same time, people in Beverly Hills used on average close to 134 gallons per day.

New water restrictions in L.A. and across the Southland aim to get the average number down by 25%. That adds up to 80 gallons per person per day.

We’re already using less water than we did 50 years ago, despite population growth, according to LADWP. But as the climate crisis stretches water supplies, conservation needs to become a way of life. So what’s the best way to do it at home? We’ve got some tips for you.

Ways To Conserve:

  • If you have a lawn, the most effective way to save water is to get rid of it. Replacing that lawn with drought-friendly, native plants is not only the best way to cut water use, it’s also great for local bees and butterflies. Water agencies like LADWP have rebates to help replace lawns. 
  • Replacing a lawn is a big change for many, but you can also save water in your yard in other ways: for example, limiting watering to one or two days could save 500 gallons a week (Starting June 1, if you get your water bill from LADWP, you’ll be required to water only two days per week. More on the rules here.) 
  • You can also upgrade your sprinkler system to be more efficient—that can save 850 gallons of water per year. There are LADWP rebates available for these changes too.
  • If you have a pool, make sure to cover it to prevent evaporation. 
  • Inside your home, upgrading appliances such as toilets and dishwashers to more water-efficient models can save tens of thousands of gallons of water every year. LADWP is adding an additional $100 incentive to their rebate program for these appliances. (A recent study by nonprofit water research group Pacific Institute found that the state could reduce urban water use by 30% to 48% by incentivizing and funding more appliance and lawn replacement programs.) 
  • Washing only full loads of laundry and dishes will save you up to 35 gallons of water per week.
  • Check to make sure any household leaks are sealed and you could save 25 gallons per day.
  • Save eight gallons every time you shower for only five minutes. 
  • Turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hands and save up to 2.5 gallons per minute. 
Climate Emergency Questions
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