California is going on its third year of very little rainfall and snow pack. The state has already passed a law (AB 1881) to reduce the amount of residential water use. If you drive down highway 5 you see empty fields that used to be green and lush filled with vegetables for our local grocery markets. The state has cut the amount of water that can be used for agriculture. The amount of water that would be used for our food supply is now being diverted to the multiple residential neighborhoods that have been built over the last ten years. Even with the cost of living in California the state’s population is growing not diminishing. The water requirements are increasing whether we have rainfall and snow pack or not.
In San Mateo County there is a population 97,000 inhabitants. If we say there are 50,000 households and the average adult uses 200 gallons of water per shower, the gallonage of water is huge. Now add washing machines and our most wasted, the garden. We are using viable drinking and bathing water to water our lawns and more than 60% goes down the gutters and overwhelms our streams and the bay.
One inch of water in a 20 by 50 square mile in an urbanized city will generate 17.4 billion gallons of water. All this water is not stored or retained for future use but all this water goes to our city sewer systems and this run-off is thwarted into our streams, lakes, estuaries and bay. All this water has polluted our coastlines and bay.
What can I do???
Imagine if every one of the homes in the City of San Mateo were to install a 50 gallon rain barrel under one of their roof downspouts this winter. 50 gallons x 50,000 homes = 2.5 million gallons of water that can be used to be put back into our gardens soil instead of it rushing out to the Bay and Pacific Ocean.
If a small percentage of homes throughout the bay area were to install a rainwater harvesting system of 5,000 gallons the amount of water savings would be huge. This water can be used to wash our cars or water our gardens.
Masterpiece Gardens has started to install beautiful water features to create habitats for birds, lizards, butterflies, and etc right in suburban gardens. This water can be constructed with a pump system to water our gardens in the summer and our drinking water can be used for actual drinking.
By using a pump system are we not using electricity? Are we not robbing Peter to pay Paul? Yes, there is a small use of electricity but we are conserving our most precious resource that we truly need to survive.
Right now there is not a perfect solution but we can all start by trying to save even a small percentage of water. Low flow showerheads, low flow toilets, etc. There are many ways to save but if we do not start now there will be no future.