Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How much water do we typically use?
- How is
the water used around the home?
- Do low-flow
toilets really work?
- Do more efficient water fixtures and appliances really make a difference?
- Why is checking for leaks so important?
- What can I do to lower my water consumption?
- What is Xeriscape?
- What is a drought?
- What differentiates a normal rainfall year from a dry year?
- What were typical reductions in urban water use during the last drought?
- When was California's last major drought?
- How do droughts affect groundwater use?
- Why isn't seawater desalting the answer to meeting water needs during droughts?
- Does weather modification (cloud seeding) help during droughts?
much water do we typically use?
The average person uses almost 100 gallons of water per day.
2. How is the water used around the home?
Landscape irrigation typically accounts for 20 to 50% of the residential
water consumption. With traditional appliances and fixtures, toilets and
clothes washers are the highest consumers of indoor water, followed by showers
3. Do low-flow
toilets really work?
Yes, they reduce the water required per flush from 3.5, 5 or 7 gallons
to 1.28 gallons, saving water and reducing your water bill. Low flow toilets
have been engineered with higher velocity flushing to clear wastes, versus
higher volumes of water.
more efficient water fixtures and appliances really make a difference?
Yes, with water efficient devices installed and regular leak inspections,
the typical household can reduce water use by 30% or more.
5. Why is checking for leaks so important?
Even small leaks can waste significant amounts of water. A faucet dripping
one drop per second will waste 2700 gallons per year. A leaky toilet can
waste as much as 200 gallons per day. It is estimated that about 20% of toilets
6. What can I do to lower my water
- Use low water plants for landscaping and drip systems for irrigation.
- Adjust and maintain sprinklers as appropriate for season and conditions.
- Install water efficient fixtures (toilets, showerheads) and low flow
aerators on faucets.
- Immediately repair all leaks.
- Turn off water when brushing teeth or shaving.
- Use low flow clothes washers and dishwashers.
- See Conservation Tips and Links for
more detailed recommendations.
7. What is Xeriscape?
It is a technique that creates water-efficient landscapes by using plants
that are appropriate for the conditions of the environment. A well-designed
xeriscape is very beautiful and uses a fraction of the water required by
a traditional landscape dominated by a lawn. See Xeriscape Gardening for more information.
1. What is a drought?
A drought is a condition that occurs when the precipitation is below normal
for some extended period of time. It is a natural recurring event. Droughts
are not rare; they are a natural recurring feature of the climate. Though
they vary significantly from one region to another, they occur in virtually
all climate zones. Select Background – Droughts
in California for more details.
2. What differentiates
a normal rainfall year from a dry year?
Most of California's precipitation comes from storms moving across the
Pacific Ocean. The path followed by the storms is determined by the position
of an atmospheric high-pressure belt that normally shifts southward during
the winter months. On average, 75 percent of California's annual precipitation
occurs between November and March, with 50 percent occurring between December
and February. A persistent Pacific high-pressure zone over California during
December through February predisposes the water year to be dry.
were typical reductions in urban water use during the last drought?
In 1991, the driest single year of the last drought, large urban water
agencies used measures such as voluntary conservation, mandatory rationing,
and extensive education and outreach programs to achieve water use reductions
in the 20-30 percent range.
4. When was California's last major
5. How do droughts affect groundwater
In an average year, about 30 percent of California's urban and agricultural
water supplies come from groundwater pumping. Reliance on groundwater increases
during droughts due to the reduced availability of surface water. During
the 1987-92 drought the total number of well driller reports filed with the
Department were in the range of 25,000 reports per year for several years,
up from less that 15,000 reports per year prior to the drought. Most of the
new wells were for private residential use.
Increased groundwater pumping during droughts results in increased lowering
of water levels in groundwater basins. Information about changes in groundwater
levels is available for sites covered by the Department's groundwater monitoring
program. Go to http://well.water.ca.gov/ and use the map interface to locate
your area of interest.
isn't seawater desalting the answer to meeting water needs during droughts?
Although improvements in desalting technology are increasing its efficiency,
the high-energy costs associated with seawater desalting make it prohibitively
expensive for most water agencies, compared to other alternatives. The present
capacity of California municipal seawater desalting plants represents less
than one-tenth of a percent of California's urban water use.
7. Does weather
modification (cloud seeding) help during droughts?
During the 1987-92 drought, the number of weather modification programs
operating in California (most located in Coast Range and Sierra Nevada watersheds)
increased from perhaps a dozen to 20 programs. However, the lack of cloud
masses suitable for seeding is a limiting factor on the potential for water
supply augmentation during droughts.
* Drought information
was supplied by the Department
Of Water Resources.