Our family recently returned from a vacation in the Rockies, where water flowed everywhere and flowers bloomed profusely. It was a shock to climb back over Walker Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and come down into the parched valley near Bakersfield. I had read about how dire the drought is in the Central Valley of California, but I was surprised to see overhead sprinklers going full tilt in the hot sun. Farmers are mining ancient water from the overtapped aquifers to keep their crops growing. The water table is dropping and without above average rainfall for several years, this practice is unsustainable.
The situation is similar here on the mountain. We are now using water from our sandstone aquifers that has taken many years to accumulate. It is time to get serious about conservation and I would like to offer two ways to do that.
The first is laundry greywater use. This is an easy way to use recycled water for irrigation. Mountain resident Art Ludwig of Oasis Design generously provides instructions for this simple conversion which was adopted into the California code in 2009. It is in the public domain and available at Oasisdesign.com. The average family uses 5600 gallons of water per year on laundry so this is a very effective way to provide irrigation water for fruit and shade trees.
The second water efficiency tip is to upgrade toilets to HydroFit flush system from MJSI which can be purchased from Home Improvement Center. They are currently out of stock because of high demand, but are available through goMJSI.com. They advertise that you will save up to 36% of flushing water with this sophisticated system.
I would appreciate hearing of any other ideas you know of to help us adapt to what could be our new water reality. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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