Tips for Reducing Water Consumption


Lake Cachuma (Photo credit: Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times)


By now, we are all well aware that in January, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency and called on Californians to reduce their water usage by 20%. For us Brennies, as environmental professionals and conscious citizens, this should be relatively easy to accomplish. Most of know the basics for how to reduce our water consumption, such as limiting shower times and not watering our lawn (or replacing it with a drought-tolerate landscape). While those actions are very important, we’ll need to go beyond the basics to help California escape this extreme drought.

Here, we present you with some extra tips and advice for cutting back on water usage. If you have other ideas to share, please submit it in the comments section below!

*Thank you to Randy Turner, MESM Class of 2010 and former water conservation specialist with Santa Barbara County, for supplying these facts and information.*

For immediate savings:

  1. Installing a new 1.5 gpm showerhead to save water and energy. This one even shuts off the flow once the water heats up. Or consider buying a valve so you can turn off the flow manually while you soap up. The water will stay at the same temperature when you turn it back on.
  2. Keep a bucket in the shower to capture water before the water heats up and use it for watering your garden or potted plants. A dish pan for the kitchen sink also works.
  3. If you have an automatic irrigation system, turn on each station and look for and fix leaks, runoff, and misting. Check your irrigation run timing and make sure it’s set for efficiency. Enlist the help of a professional to help. Try calling Wilson Environmental Contracting, a local business owned by former Bren student, Daniel Wilson, that assists residents with their landscaping needs to ensure water efficiency.
  4. Check out for additional water savings advice, including classes, workshops, and videos for saving water both inside and outside the home.
  5. Drive over the hill to Lake Cachuma and note the extremely low water level. Awareness is a good motivator.

For longer term savings:

  1. Install a Laundry to Landscape graywater system for your washing machine. The public library has locally-made DVD’s to borrow that show you how to do this.
  2. Remove your lawn and tropical shrubbery if you are eligible for rebates from your water provider. Think native plants and pollinators. Consider planting milkweed to feed our local monarchs.
  3. Learn to capture and store/infiltrate runoff from roofs and hardscapes. Check out Ocean Friendly Gardens for more info on awesome low tech/low cost methods.
  4. Choose food that uses less water, such as root vegetables. Avoid other foods (such as meat and almonds) that require high amounts of water for production.
  5. Drink less Reverse Osmosis water. It uses 2-3 gallons for every gallon it produces


Post a comment below if you have something to add to this list!

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