As we narrowly escape the latest in a series of heat waves this summer here in Southern California, we are reminded of what the Governor warned us about just five months ago: “the next drought could be around the corner. Conservation must remain a way of life.”
It’s important for the public to continue their drought-conscious habits if conservation is to truly become a way of life in our Golden State. While Los Angeles reached its goal of a 20 percent reduction in per capita water use last January, we know that the record-hot summer will lead to an uptick in water use, especially outdoor watering. There was actually an increase in daily per capita residential water use in the South Coast hydrologic region from June to July 2017 as calculated by the State Water Resources Control Board. While we should continue to encourage people to wash their cars less and water their lawns before 9 am and after 4pm, there are actually many more unconventional ways for us to save even more water.
Reducing meat consumption
Did you know producing 1 pound of beef requires between 2,000 and 8,000 gallons of water, while the production of 1 pound of tofu only requires 302 gallons of water, according to a study by researchers at UC Davis? It’s true! And while it’s not realistic for everyone to switch to a plant-based diet, we can save a lot of water by being part-time vegetarians one or two days a week. Better still, reducing meat consumption also significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps combat climate change.
Curious about more ways to conserve water and fight climate change? Well, it turns out that lowering water consumption saves energy (and lowers GHG emissions)! While the City of Los Angeles’ LA Aqueduct is entirely gravity fed and actually generates electricity, the same isn’t true for the larger water supply imported to Southern California through the State Water Project's California Aqueduct. A significant amount of electricity is used to pump water through the State Water Project to bring it over the mountains and into Southern California. Water is also used in the production of electricity by many power producers, so saving water saves electricity and saving electricity can also save water!
Researchers from the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency at UC Davis built an interactive web application where they visualize the progress of the State’s 25% water conservation mandate in 2015. With data from 400 public water agencies for the period of July to September 2015, they found that water conservation resulted in energy savings of 460 gigawatt hours (GWh)--about the same amount saved from all energy saving programs enacted statewide! What’s even more significant about this is that water conservation measures were less expensive to enact than statewide energy conservation programs by an estimated $127.8 million, meaning that saving water saves energy and saves money!6 This eye opening study highlights the interconnectedness of our water and energy systems and is another important perspective for Californians to consider when moving forward in the direction of resource conservation.
So, understanding that water conservation also leads to energy conservation, we can, as the title of this blog post claims, save water, save energy and save money--all at the same time! The infographic below shares fun and practical ways that we can all save water and energy at home. More information on money saving rebates for turf removal, water-saving washing machines, weather-based irrigation controllers and many other devices can also be found at www.SavetheDropLA.org and at www.BeWaterWise.com. If we all do a little more to conserve our natural resources, it can add up to a LOT of savings.
And don’t forget:
“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”