SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors directed staff to
explore opportunities for addressing water conservation at its Board meeting this week, including looking at adiabatic distillation, a water extraction technology that condenses water vapor in the air to make water. Concerned about the statewide drought, the County of Santa Clara is actively engaged in water conservation efforts, examining water conservation measures in place at County facilities, working with local and regional partners, and identifying strategies to reduce water use over the next few months. Information about water conservation can be found at www.sccgov.org/saveourwater.
“Even with recent rain providing some relief, we still have to do everything we can to conserve water because this is a long-term challenge that won’t be resolved quickly,” said President Mike Wasserman.
County staff will report to the Board’s Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee (HLUET) monthly to outline current and future water conservation strategies.
“While the County has ongoing water efficiency projects to reduce water use in its facilities, we want to explore long-term solutions such as adiabatic distillation,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, Chair of the Board’s HLUET Committee.
The County has large institutional facilities, such as a hospital and jails, so it is continually examining its water usage. The County’s ongoing water efficiency project identifies opportunities to use less water and implements necessary improvements, including changing turf to xeriscape, putting in low flow toilets and most recently converting all the showers in the jails to low flow. At Elmwood Correctional Facility, water usage has decreased by 25% since 2009, a savings of 32,545 CCF (hundred cubic feet) or 24 million gallons.
The County was named the 2013 winner of the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award in the Government category for ongoing reductions, including saving 20 million gallons annually through turf-replacement projects. The County’s Green Building Policy has stringent requirements for water efficiency in new buildings, which focuses attention on reducing water usage as each new project is developed.
“We are committed to conserving water as a matter of practice, drought or not, as demonstrated by our ongoing water reduction projects,” said Supervisor Joe Simitian, Chair of the Board’s Finance and Government Operations Committee. “However, since all Santa Clara County residents and businesses are expected to follow the 20 percent mandatory reductions in water use, the County will explore additional methods for conservation.”
The County is also joining with local and regional partners, such as Santa Clara Valley Water District that issued a mandatory 20% water use reduction for the Santa Clara County area, and www.saveourh2o.org that promotes water conservation as an ongoing effort. The County has created a new web page www.sccgov.org/saveourwater, that brings together many resources into one place so residents and businesses can find water conservation tips, rebates from local water companies, and county conservation efforts. For daily water conservation tips, go to the web site or follow @SaveOurWater on Twitter.
Other Santa Clara County businesses and organizations can also become partners in the water conservation effort. Go to www.saveourh2o.org and see how to become a partner.
A few indoor and outdoor water conservation tips:
· Use the washing machine for full loads only, to save water and energy.
· Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain color.
· Run the dishwasher only when full to save water and energy.
· Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to less than 1 gallon per minute.
· When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
· Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons.
· Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
· Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
· Install low-flow shower heads. Save: 2.5 Gallons
· Take five minute showers instead of 10 minute showers. Save: 12.5 gallons with a low flow showerhead, 25 gallons with a standard 5.0 gallon per minute showerhead.
· Install aerators on bathroom faucets. Save: 1.2 Gallons Per Person/Day
· Turn water off when brushing teeth or shaving. Save: Approximately 10 Gallons/Day
· Install a high-efficiency toilet. Save: 19 Gallons Per Person/Day
· Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
· Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor and save up to 300 gallons a month.
· Turn off the water while washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons a month.
· When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
· Take a (short) shower instead of a bath. A bathtub can use up to 70 gallons of water.
· Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Save: 25 gallons/each time you water
· Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Save: 15-12 gallons/each time you water
· Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Save: 15 gallons/each time you water
· Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
· Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep soil cool. Organic mulch improves the soil and prevents weeds. Save: 20-30 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft.
· Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Save: 30- 60 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft
· One easy way to cut down how much water you use outdoors is to learn how much water your landscaping actually needs in order to thrive. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make.
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