A planned community in California’s Central Valley is just days away from running out of water after the state cut off the only water source relied upon by the town’s 15,000 residents:
The upscale community of Mountain House, west of Tracy, is days away from having no water. It’s not just about lawns—there may not be a drop for the 15,000 residents to drink.
“We’re out there looking for water supplies as we speak,” said Mountain House general manager Ed Pattison. “We have storage tanks, but those are basically just to ensure the correct pressurization of the distribution system. No more than 2 days are in those storage tanks.”
The community’s sole source of water, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, was one of 114 senior water rights holders cut off by a curtailment notice from the state on Friday.
That means Mountain House leaders must find someone to sell them water, hopefully, the GM says, to have enough until the end of the year.
“We don’t want this town to become a ghost town, it was a beautiful master-planned community,” he said.
Farmers who rely on the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District are worried they could lose their livelihoods due to the cuts:
“It’s gonna be a devastating thing,” said farmer Paul Simoni with Simoni and Massoni Farms. “We got 125 employees who work for us. They’re all gonna be out of work. We’ve got crops that are in the ground growing right now. If they cut off the water, they’re gonna die.”
He says with no water, he could lose everything he’s worked so hard and so many decades to do.
“We’ve never had to rely on wells because we have pre-1914 rights that we were told could never be taken from us and here,” he said. “This is a day from Hell.”
The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District serves 160 farmers and 10,000 acres of farmland.
Self-reliant answer – Never trust the government and plan for the worst
The government has welshed on its promise and just thrown a lever to reroute the water. As a Self-Reliance Central reader I’m sure you’re not surprised. And some residents of Mountain House are now stockpiling water:
Anthony Gordon saves drinking water just in case, even though he never thought it would come to this.
“My wife thinks I’m nuts. I have like 500 gallons of drinking water stored in my home,” he said.
He’s right. Now’s the time to stock water for these California residents. Last week we introduced the WaterBob a quick way to save 100 gallons by filling a sealed bath liner. But if you get to the camping, boating or tools department at your local box store you can pick up something like this for a few bucks. It’s got 6 gallons capacity and you can drive it easily to refill in places without a restriction. You’re going to need a couple of gallons per person per day. And remember, wash everything in plastic bowls so you can reuse the ‘gray’ water on plants.
It’s not just these California communities. Many people suffer drought or water shortages through the summer months and they use lots of ‘tricks’ to reduce water use.
The lets-shut-the-door-after-the-horse-has-bolted EPA has a few conserving water tips that mostly involve expenditure on your part.
Communities across the country are starting to face challenges in maintaining healthy and affordable water supplies; that’s why it’s more important than ever to use our water wisely and not waste it. In addition, it takes large amounts of energy to produce and transport clean water and to process waste water.
A typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every day. We can reduce this amount and save money by using water more efficiently — detecting and fixing leaky faucets, installing high efficiency clothes washers and toilets, and watering the lawn and garden with the minimum amount of water needed.
Most of us know we can save water if we turn off the tap while brushing our teeth (as much as 3,000 gallons per year!), but did you know that there are products that will help save water when the tap is on? WaterSense and ENERGYSTAR®, programs sponsored by EPA, have identified high-performance, water-efficient appliances, fixtures, water systems, and accessories that reduce water use in the home and help preserve the nation’s water resources. By saving water, you also save energy; the link is discussed in detail here.
Look for the WaterSense Label
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices.
As communities across the country begin facing challenges regarding water supply and water infrastructure, WaterSense can help consumers identify water-efficient products and programs. The WaterSense label tells the consumer that products and programs that carry the label meet water efficiency and performance criteria, and will help save water, money, and energy.
For more information on EPA’s WaterSense program, as well as water saving tips, go to:
Older toilets, manufactured before 1992 when the Energy Policy Act mandated water efficient toilets, use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing these toilets with WaterSense labeled toilets could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country. Switching to high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four, on average, $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets.
There are a number of high-efficiency toilet options, including dual flush technology (seen everywhere in Europe). Dual flush toilets have two flush volumes-a full flush for solids and a reduced flush for liquids only. Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom, building a new home, or simply replacing an old, leaky toilet, a WaterSense labeled toilet is a high-performing, water-efficient option worth considering.
Did you know? The toilet flush on many public toilet and urinal now works in two ways? Pull up for fluid waste and push down for solid.
Composting toilets are another option for those who want to be very green and live someplace where it’s an option. Composting toilets have been an established technology for more than 30 years, and recent advances have made them easy to use and similar in look and feel to regular toilets. As they require little to no water, composting toilet systems can provide a solution to sanitation and environmental problems in unsewered, rural, and suburban areas.
Although they take a bit more attention than ordinary toilets, composting toilets can help conserve water and energy, reduce water pollution, and may generate useful garden compost. Check to see if composting toilets are allowed under your local building codes.
Faucets and Showerheads
Faucets account for more than 15 percent of indoor household water use-more than 1 trillion gallons of water across the United States each year. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories can reduce a sink’s water flow by 30 percent or more without sacrificing performance. If every household in the United States installed WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets or faucet accessories, we could save more than $350 million in water utility bills and more than 60 billion gallons of water annually-enough to meet public water demand in a city the size of Miami for more than 150 days!
If you are not in the market for a new faucet, consider replacing the aerator in your older faucet with a more efficient one. The aerator-the screw-on tip of the faucet-ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and are an effective water-efficiency measure. See our article here.
Also keep in mind that you can significantly reduce water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures-toilets, faucets, and showerheads-or pipes.
Showering accounts for approximately 17 percent of residential indoor water use in the United States-more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water consumed each year. You can purchase quality, high-efficiency shower fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25-60 percent. Select a high-efficiency showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency. Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm, so you might want to replace older models if you’re not sure of the flow rate.
For more information on water-efficient faucets, showerheads, and accessories, got to:
If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion dollars per year! For instance, the average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load, and is the second largest water user in your home. High-efficiency washing machines use 35 to 50 percent less water, as well as 50 percent less energy per load. If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR® model to reduce water and energy use. To save more water, look for a clothes washer with a low water factor. A water factor is the number of gallons per cycle per cubic foot that a clothes washer uses. So, if a washer uses 18 gallons per cycle and has a tub volume of 3.0 cubic feet, then the water factor is 6.0. The lower the water factor, the more efficient the washer is.
For more information on water- and energy-efficient appliances, go to:
Hot Water Systems
Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. It typically accounts for about 13% of your utility bill, and can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home. You can reduce your monthly water heating bills by selecting the appropriate water heater for your home or pool-such as tankless, heat pump, or solar hot water heaters-and by using some energy-efficient water heating strategies.
If your water heater’s tank leaks, you may need a new water heater. If you are not in the market for a new hot water heater, consider installing an insulation blanket on your water heater tank, and insulate at least the first 3 to 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater. When installing a hot water heater insulation blanket:
- For electric hot-water storage tanks, be careful not to cover the thermostat.
- For natural gas or oil hot-water storage tanks, be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.
- Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations
These strategies will help get hot water to you faster, saving thousands of gallons of water per year in each household.
For more information on energy efficient hot water heaters, go to:
Efficient Hot Water Systems and Strategies