Now that Californian’s are being rationed by the State with what seems like an oppressive amount I decided to look at my own water usage looking at my latest water bill which also shows the previous year.
Yes I know, those bills aren’t perfect but it is the closest way to calculate it for yourself.
The billing information shows the usage but it also shows outdoor consumption i.e. what is used for watering the garden etc. In my case, my lawn in the back of the house is a brown dead mass for most of the year, gophers and ants had ruined it, in fact where I had a 12×10 garden shed the shed had to be relocated because the gophers had utilized the underside of the shed to deposit all the soil they have tunneled out and the lawn never recovered from the combination of the gophers and the ants. I was always either almost breaking an ankle when the lawn gave way or stepping on an ant nest and being attacked by the ants (I think I’ve gotten rid of them then they return like the pesky gophers).
What we do know is that, for my area they bill in blocks of water, 748 Gallons is one Unit and they only charge for the whole Units and round down. So if you use 1495 you will be charged for one unit because it has not reached the next unit measurement, the following month though you may end up with a larger usage because it has ticked over Two whole units and because you were so close to rolling over the unit it will show as an extra unit being used and billed for.
I believe that my water bill shows the actual daily usage in Gallons, they have the ability to identify that, they can identify if you have a suspected leak in a pipe remotely using their electronic meters they installed so I am sure they give accurate daily gallons used.
The State of California’s new law currently sets the personal usage limit per person at 55 gallons per day. So a couple would be allocated 110, a family of four 220 gallons.
This is for personal usage, landscape water usage is a higher allowance and I don’t know how they would work that out or whether they just reduce it, I did notice my allowances were reduced by 25-35% during this summer season than last year which was reduced based on the year before.
So during a month for myself for personal usage alone I would be allocated 1673 Gallons and for the property I would be allocated another about four times as much. A family of our though for personal use would get about 6692 gallons per month but would only be allocated the same landscaping water allowance that would be close to or matching their personal allowance. This allowance though is worked out based on the square footage of the property their home sits on so for if they had a huge acreage they would have an equally massive allowance for landscape watering, if they were in a tiny lot with barely a front and back yard (some of the homes in my City barely have any outdoor space at all) they may end up with an outdoor allocation that is maybe just a single water unit per month.
I was surprised looking at my bill, I’ve rarely used my whole personal allocation that the Water company gives me for a month, they base it on the number of presumed people in the home as opposed to the actual number so my allowances are essentially far higher while the house across the street on the same sized property that is classed as a two bedroom home only has the same allowance for personal use because they presume that there is the same number of people in each home. The home across the street has three different families living in it, I don’t know how they all fit in there but they do and even have one family living in a beat up old Fifth Wheel trailer they jammed into the property. Let’s face it, they currently have 8 vehicles being used by the family at any one time and if the toddlers drive i could understand but there are 8 drivers and at least 6 children, maybe more. So in their instance they will struggle to meet the water rationing. The previous owners were an elderly couple and they moved because they were frustrated at the cost of the water service.
Here’s my usage from the last bill
I was surprised. Though I am more careful about my usage than most. I use 1/2 Gallon/minute shower heads, wait until I have used lots of dishes before washing them and the rinsing of the dishes takes place in a single sitting so they are cleaned and stacked in the second sink and then rinsed off and put on a drainer. My dish washer is a lonely beast these days, it is an older model and I don’t think it is that efficient to use, My water usage dropped after I stopped using it.
I also wait until I have a full load of laundry and only do two types of laundry load, Clothes and towels so that while I will use more water with each load than by doing smaller loads more often I actually save water because I am doing far fewer laundries, normally two clothing loads a week and towels are laundered weekly or sometimes every 10-11 days whereas I used to use launder every few days.
My outdoor watering consists of avoiding the dead lawn and watering just the three dwarf citrus trees, every second or third day and once a week I water the Ficus trees on one side of the house and the three decorative bushes — if i remember — while the palm trees in the front yard never get water, they do fine with the arid soil.
My showers consist of quick showering and wash as quickly as I can and turn the shower off. I try to get the shower time limited to less than 10 minutes. In warmer weather or when I have been working outside I usually have a follow up shower and another shower before I go to bed. So I aim for less than 15 gallons a day or less for showering.
My biggest usage seems to be when I use flush the toilet, I can’t bring myself to go to the extremes of holding back flushing when you do a pee until you go two or three times. I know that it’s wasteful but it freaks me out thinking about and as much as I tried I would flush the lavatory anyway.
My usage though remains this year 50 gallons or less per day which surprised me though I may have screwed up this morning I turned on the hose to water one of the citrus trees and forgot for several minutes so it got a nice watering and I doubt it will need watering for another week now.
Oh and while the water is saved by the 1/2 Gallon a minute shower heads they are extremely hard to get used to, and you need a routine to make sure get washed because some parts of your body sometimes dont get washed if you don’t learn to get your limbs under the water flow. I did try a 1 Gallon per minute shower head (yes I’ve spent a small fortune on different shower head types) but the spray was so fine that it was almost misting rather than spraying so you felt like you were not getting any cleaner and I would spend longer in the shower.
You have to pick the shower head, your Water District will normally be happy to send out kits with new shower heads for 1 1/2 gallon per minute flow and reduced flow faucet aerators for in the home.
While being on your own makes it possible to get by with the water restrictions, I believe that when you get to families with children or more than two adults in the house the struggle will start because then you have to work as a team and we all know kids that will turn on a faucet and forget about it or just sit flushing the toilet etc.