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If Only All of Us Would . . . : Here's How We Can Solve the Coming Water Shortage

April 15, 1990

Already haunted by dwindling water supplies in normal years, Southern California is in the fourth year of drought. Many of the region's 15 million residents face the likelihood of official water rationing this summer unless they voluntarily reduce residential water use by at least 10% during the next six weeks.

Most of us Southern Californians could weather the Drought of 1990 without major inconvenience or mandatory water controls and we could avoid the sort of rationing that now has limited each family in Ventura to 8,820 gallons a month, about half the normal per-family consumption in Los Angeles . . .

IF we watered the lawn only when necessary (step on the grass and if it bounces back quickly, watering can wait), we would save 1,200 to 1,500 gallons a month;

IF we watered only during the shady mornings and evenings of the day and allowed the water to soak in deeply to the roots, and adjusted sprinklers to avoid water wasting onto sidewalks and patios, we would save 1,200 to 1,500 gallons a month;

IF we swept the sidewalks, driveways and patios rather than hosing them down, something that already is illegal in Los Angeles and some other cities in the region, we would save 500 to 900 gallons a month;

IF we took the car to an carwash that recycles water, or--if allowed by local ordinance--if we washed the car a bucket at a time, turning on the hose only at the end for a quick finishing rinse, we would save 450 gallons a month;

IF we did wash the car at home, and if the lawn needed watering, we could double our savings by driving the car onto the lawn so the grass would benefit, too;

IF we cut the length of showers by a minute or two and turned off the water while lathering, we would save up to 2,000 gallons a month;

IF we fixed toilet leaks and declined to use the toilet as a waste basket for Kleenex and other such items, we would save 400 gallons a month and up;

IF we used the water-saving setting on the dish washer and waited until there was a full load before starting the washer, we would save 500 gallons a month;

IF we used the short-time cycle on the automatic washer and the minimum water level, we would save 500 to 600 gallons a month;

IF we scraped table scraps into the garbage basket rather than running them through the garbage disposal under a steady stream of water, we would save 50 to 150 gallons a month;

IF we kept drinking water chilled in the refrigerator rather than running the tap until the water was cold enough, we would save 200 to 300 gallons a month;

IF we turned off the kitchen faucet while cleaning and paring vegetables, we would save 150 to 250 gallons a month;

IF we covered the swimming pool when not in use, we would save 1,300 gallons a month;

IF we planted drought-resistant trees and plants--check with the local nursery--we wouldsave 750 to 1,000 gallons a month;

IF we checked the entire house for leaks, installed low-flow faucets and toilets, we would save an undetermined, but substantial amount of water;

IF we did all these things with just some diligence, we would save a minimum of 5,000 gallons a month, although the total would be far greater for most;

IF we did these things, we'd save far more than the amount the Metropolitan Water District says needs to be conserved to avoid a shortage or, worse yet, a crisis if 1991 is another dry year, and

IF we did all these things, Southern Californians would have no need to fear the Drought of 1990.

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