Cape Town, South Africa, faced a scary scenario last month: The city of 4 million residents was warned by officials of an impending “Day Zero” when they’ll run out of fresh water. We know a bit here about what that feels like! The Cape Town date has been mercifully pushed back to late August — and may be averted by seasonal rains.
To help avoid a similar fate here, California building codes are regularly updated with rigorous conservation requirements. Even though we’re not in a drought at this moment, these tough rules help preserve our supplies for those inevitable times when we are.
Given the market power of California, our rules are spreading around the country. Take shower heads and tub faucets, for example: “July 1, 2018, California is mandating 1.8 gallons per minute,” says Steve Giandalia, The Home Depot’s regional merchandise manager for San Diego. By that date, he says, “We will be shipping 100 percent 1.8 GPM
“Washing laundry accounts for 15 to 40 percent of total home water usage,” says Home Depot’s Giandalia, but new rules and new technology have brought those numbers down, too. “Front-load and top-load impeller washing machines use significantly less per wash than top load agitator models (14 to 25 gallons versus 40 to 45 gallons).”
Another way your clothes washer — and bathroom sinks and showers — can help you conserve water is with a gray water system that recycles it for irrigating your plants and flushing your toilets. “There are three levels of gray water reuse in residential building in San Diego; the first is the simplest and it is for laundry water to be reused in landscaping irrigation. This does not require a permit, and the county has made a huge step in the right direction by making this easy to achieve,” says SDGBC’s Teare.
“It’s Encinitas code to have your home pre-plumbed for gray water, and many of our homeowners choose to install systems,” she says. “The downside of gray water is the long-term investment. The simpler systems can, however, be relatively inexpensive.” (You can also research whether rebate programs are available for your area.
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