California's Water: Using Water Wisely


In a state where literally every drop of water counts, using water wisely has become a way of life for most Californians. Over the past few decades, communities up and down the state have made tremendous progress on water use efficiency programs. Whether spurred by drought or growing populations, local water agencies have made significant investments in hardware and programs that help their customers reduce water use.
This segment of “California’s Water” takes an on-the-ground look at what water agencies are doing to encourage wise water use at homes, parks and businesses. From high-tech irrigation controllers to low-tech, low-cost, water-saving practices, the segment highlights some of the many efforts that are allowing California to meet the needs of growing communities without increasing the amount of water consumed.
Background on the Issue 
California water agencies have been on the leading edge of water use efficiency for decades. Thanks to more efficient plumbing fixtures and active water efficiency programs, California saves more than 700,000 acre-feet a year. That’s enough water to meet the household needs of over 2 million people for a year. 
Local agencies have adopted water use efficiency practices and technologies that compare favorably with those found anywhere in the world. In urban Southern California, for example, total water use remains at about the same level seen in the 1980s, despite the addition of millions of new residents. Parts of the San Francisco Bay Area report similar success at holding total water consumption down even as communities continue to grow.
Much of this success can be attributed to implementation of water use efficiency practices through the California Urban Water Conservation Council’s Memorandum of Understanding, a collaborative effort among urban water agencies, environmental interests and the business community. Today, more than 300 organizations have signed onto the agreement, representing 80% of the water delivered to urban areas in California.
Through these efforts, some 2.5 million water-efficient toilets have been installed statewide, along with a huge array of water-efficiency plumbing fixtures, washing machines, landscape irrigation systems and other devices.
In addition, thousands of homeowners have switched to water-saving, drought-tolerant plants to maintain attractive landscapes that consume significantly less water.
Further advances in water use efficiency are expected in coming years as more technology comes on line.