A draft of the new set of drought regulations that's supposed to help California reach Governor Jerry Brown's 25 percent water use reduction target is due to be released later today, and while I can't speculate on what's going to be on it (You can only have water in restaurants if you fight your server? No showering unless you own pre-1900 water rights?), I can tell you exactly how much water you have to save, and a few ways you can save it. So, how much water do you actually need to save? In like numbers? Well, that depends on where you live.
The exact percentage you have to reduce your water use by is determined by how well your water authority has already been cutting back. Under the draft framework released earlier this month, Orange County's most frugal water users in Seal Beach would only have to curb their usage by an additional 10 percent while the thirstiest consumers in Cowan Heights and Villa Park would have to cut usage 35 percent. Most of Orange County would have to make 20 or 25 percent cuts.
We're going to be using June numbers here, because that's the month where we have the most data available (it's not far off, folks!).
In Seal Beach, that means you'd have to reduce your per-person water usage by about 7 gallons a day or just over 217 gallons a month. That sounds like a lot, but if you've got older toilets, replacing them with low-flow flushers could save you up to 1,000 gallons a month, enough for a family of four to make their use reduction target.
Not everyone's got it as easy as Seal Beach, though. The average Orange County home will have to cut water usage by just over 30 gallons a day per person in June (roughly 9,000 gallons that month). The 1,000 gallons from installing new toilets wouldn't do it for a family of four, but if you replaced your lawn with drought-resistant plants, you could save almost 1.5 gallons of water per square foot of grass replaced a month. If you've got one thousand square feet of grass, that's another 1,400 gallons. That last bit of gap can be closed up with simpler stuff — changing shower heads, installing sink aerators, collection rainwater, cutting down shower time, reining in leaks, etc.
And if you live in Cowan Heights? You're going to have to save an eye-popping 6,250 gallons per person that month. You all have giant lawns you won't miss, right?