Much has been written in this space on water conservation since these articles began this past July, as the city of Downey implemented its first water rate increase in 16 years. Not long before that, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared that an almost four-year drought was over.Downey is fortunate to be able to supply the water needs of this community from its own wells, and consequently--despite the rate increase--continues to provide water at some of the lowest rates in the region. Nevertheless, the National Weather Service expects an ongoing moderate La Ni?±a weather system to continue through about February, 2012. This could produce drier weather than normal in Southern California, once again highlighting the need for careful use of water. Further, both city officials and concerned citizens are anxious to assist the community in improving water conservation. Broadly speaking, such efforts need to address aspects of both quality and quantity, recognizing that these improvements constitute both big and little choices, both for the city and for its residents. For example, the city is planning on providing two new wells in the near future--a big investment to help insure that the city can continue to provide sufficient quantities of water to the community. On the other hand, as was strongly encouraged in this space two weeks ago, an individual citizen can help maintain water quality in the community by making the small--that is to say simple and inexpensive--choice to sweep the driveway, instead of hosing it down with water. Which, by the way, is illegal anyway. Moreover, the city's Department of Public Works Utilities Division has recently published a brochure full of helpful suggestions for conscientious water use. Over the next several weeks we will focus here on those specific aspects of water conservation, which include the following: Indoors: Toilets, Showerheads, Faucets, Clothes Washers and Dishwashers, Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Outdoors: Sidewalks, Driveways, Parking, Patios, Pools, Spas, Ponds, and Landscape Irrigation Last, and most importantly, as the spring planting season begins, we will discuss one of the most comprehensive concepts available to residents for conserving water, not only because it promises some of the greatest water savings, but also because it requires one of the biggest shifts in cultural and aesthetic perspective related to water conservation: namely, drought-tolerant and California-native landscaping. Lars Clutterham is the co-founder of downeygreen, a local non-profit organization advocating sustainability.
********** Published: January 5, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 38