OP-ED: Norwalk residents deserve praise for water conservation efforts

By Richard Mathis

Faced with historic drought conditions, Californians have rallied together over the summer months to save a significant amount of water by changing the way we use the precious resource.

The local community, in particular, has done an impressive job improving conservation efforts to meet the reduction challenge issued by the state. Customers deserve praise for the tremendous strides they have made. 

In April, Governor Jerry Brown authorized California’s first-ever mandatory water reductions, calling for state regulators to assign reduction mandates ranging from 4-36 percent to cities and towns across California. Golden State Water Company’s customers served by the Norwalk system—the communities of Downey, La Mirada, Lakewood, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs and Whittier-- were told to reduce use by 12 percent compared 2013.

Customers have risen to the challenge. During the period since the mandatory reductions took effect on June 1, local customers have reduced water use by a cumulative 22 percent.

During the month of August, the peak of summer, local reductions equaled 18 percent compared to the same month in 2013. For perspective, the 28 million gallons saved in August are the equivalent of more than 42 Olympic-size swimming pools or enough to fill 5.6 million five-gallon buckets.

We applaud our customers’ conservation efforts and thank everyone for making changes at their homes and businesses to achieve the water-use goals. 

While customers have made significant progress, we cannot relent in the final month of summer or as we transition to fall. The fall season normally brings rainfall and cooler temperatures with limited need to irrigate lawns and gardens, thus eliminating the opportunity to meet the current reduction targets simply by reducing outdoor irrigation.

Therefore, we encourage customers to look inside their homes and businesses for opportunities to reduce water use:

• Survey your bathroom plumbing and fix faucets, toilets or plumbing fixtures that may be leaking.
• Install high-efficiency shower heads and faucet aerators (free indoor conservation kits available)
• Replace inefficient toilets with UHET/HET models (rebates available)
• Choose a shower over a bath, and keep showers to five minutes.
• Turn off the water when you brush your teeth or shave.
• Survey your kitchen plumbing and fix faucets or fixtures that may be leaking.
• Wait to run full loads of dishes (and laundry).
• When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink instead of letting the water run.
• Scrape dishes into the garbage instead of running your garbage disposal.
• Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator to beat the wasteful habit of running tap water to cool it for drinking.
• Wash vegetables and fruits in a pan of water instead of under running water.
• Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain nutrients.
• Select the proper pan size for cooking.
Drought conditions may be the new norm for California, and continued diligence is important to ensure we have water supplies now and for future generations.

Golden State Water will continue to educate customers regarding the drought and local conservation opportunities. Customers are encouraged to visit gswatersavers.com to order free indoor/outdoor conservation kits, and go to gswater.com/conservation to view the conservation rebates and programs available in your area.

We proudly offer online drought resources, tools and information at gswater.com/drought (gswater.com/sequia for Spanish) to ensure we are all using water responsibly and remain committed to protecting valuable water supplies during this drought emergency.

Richard Mathis is Central General Manager for Golden State Water Company.