The letter from the city arrived last week. We knew that it would but fantasized that it wouldn’t. The finality was clearly printed on paper: “Rationing will begin May 1st for all residential customers. You are receiving this letter because your average summer consumption is over your allotment, and steep penalties will applied to any water used in excess of your allotment.”
The City of Santa Cruz where I live relies up on a local water supply. We don’t tap into the California water supply system like many other municipalities in the state. Striking a blow for water freedom and independence has its price and this was it.
The letter said that our average monthly summer use was more than double our allotment. Okay, we had a couple of leaks in our sprinkler system last year and got them fixed; we weren’t water wastrels as the city made us out to be. The allotment is not unrealistic and actually generous for our household of 2, but unless we conserve, we won’t be able to water our back and front yard plants at all. They’re drought tolerant but to a certain extent only. Additionally, we hope to embark on a bathroom remodeling project that will likely use a fair amount of water. I don’t want to be a water Nazi to a contractor.
After digesting the reality of rationing, I got obsessed with replacing our home appliances with water- and energy-saving ones. Dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, toilets, faucets – I studied up on them. Turns out that replacing our appliances costs a bundle and figuring out what qualifies for energy saving rebates is no easy feat. (As a side note, peruse online sources but go to an old fashioned appliances sales places like Sears for consultation/reconnaissance on home appliances.)
We haven’t decided on the appliance thing but my husband and I did come up with ideas to save water around the house. We’ll set a bucket in the shower to collect water as the shower water heats up, take shorter showers consecutively so we don’t waste hot water, and flush less (you know what I mean). In the kitchen, my drought tolerant cooking strategies include: