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Drought and water rationing August 8, 2008

Posted by Merrilee in Environment.

I’ve been agonizing over the last few weeks because the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) announced that they were going to impose a drought surcharge on customers who were unable to cut their water useage by 10%. The baseline would be calculated on the last three years usage. The reason I’ve been agonizing is that I think we are quite frugal with water already.  As a native Californian, I grew up with droughts and water rationing, so I’m well aware of the dos and don’ts. When I visit east coast friends who will leave the sink on while the answer the phone, it drives me bonkers. We don’t water our yard at all — we have drought resistant plants, and the real test of how drought resistant they are is not watering them. If they don’t make it, I try something else. (This might explain why we have such a barren yard, but it’s getting better). We have a front loading, high efficiency washing machine. We have a low flow toilet (we replaced one that had a leak). We recently had our leaky water line dug up and replaced (a pricey job!).

On the other hand, we’ve had some changes in our lives. Karydis is a new person in our household. Since becoming a toddler, and has her own baths, and generates a fair bit of laundry. We’ve also started making our own sparkling water, instead of buying it at the store. So our useage has been going up. So what to do?

I’ve been thinking about what we can do better. We’ve stopped flushing when it’s not necessary. Maybe it’s gross, but it doesn’t bother me. If you don’t like it you can use your own toilet. 😉 We could buy a low flow shower head. And while it can as a surprise to me, washing dishes by hand is far less efficient than using a dishwasher. I measured in the kitchen, and if we give up a little of our precious storage space, we could get a very small dishwasher. (I am totally in favor of that one, since I am the dishwasher.)

A few days ago, we got a letter from EBMUD. I put off looking at it, but I finally opened it today. What a nice surprise! We are in a useage category that exempts us from charges. This surprises me, because in the press coverage about the rate increases, there were a lot of people who complained about being water-frugal (like me) who were outraged that they would have to find ways to cut their already low usage.

I am still planning to put into place measures to further reduce our usage. I’m actually glad that I was challenged to think about how we could do better, and came up with a few things. And I will definitely enjoy that dishwasher.



1. Conservation…not! « MerrileeIAm - April 19, 2009

[…] April 19, 2009 Posted by Merrilee in Environment. trackback Last year, I wrote about our efforts to save water. Now, less than a year later, I found out our water utility is ditching it’s efforts to have […]

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