Ever noticed that we're surrounded by water? It's a main feature of Oakland's geography, ecology and economy—and it's waiting for us at every tap.
While this faucet-ready water doesn't come free, considering what it takes to get it to us it's incredibly cheap. Even the poorest American can easily access relatively clean (20th century clean) water. Contrast this to most of the ‘developing world', where accessing consumable water can take hours every day.
So when you go about your day, see if you can notice all the times you turn on the tap or flush the toilet. Consider that you're really lucky to be able to do this, and that a great way to be grateful is to save some of that taken-for-granted water.
You don't have to look far to find "Save Water" tips, reminders and suggestions—EBMUD alone has tons. So we won't get into the usual water-saving info you can readily find online or around town—here's our list of things we don't see on all the lists...
1. Don't turn the faucet on full blast. This seems obvious but nine times out of ten we notice our friends, our family, and ourselves cranking the faucet in the kitchen or bathroom, using much more water than is necessary to wash our hands or rinse a dish. Take it easy on the tap!
2. Make sure the faucet is really off. Another simple thing lots of people don't do, judging from how regularly we run into needlessly dripping faucets--including our own. After you've turned off the faucet double-check to be sure it isn't dripping. It takes like two seconds.
3. Capture the "I'm waiting for it to get hot" water. We do see this suggestion from time to time, but not enough to feel confident you've seen it. It's an incredibly simple and satisfying way to save every day—just put a large jug or bucket under the tap whenever you're waiting for hot water, then use it for watering plants or cooking or refilling your dog's water dish or washing your fruit.
4. Save your bathwater for your plants. This may sound gross but unless you're using tons of oils in the bath your bathwater is perfectly fine for watering your plants. You can even just save your rinse water—leave the stopper in, then once you're out use a bucket or jug to grab some water and give it to your thirsty plants. And if you really want to take the 'grey water' concept and run with it, check out the Greywater Guerillas at Greywater Action—water saving for real.
5. Help your plants water each other. This is especially useful outside—water a small container plant, then hold it over another plant so the first plant's drainage waters the second. Voila, you're only using half the water you'd normally use! If you do even one of these things on a regular basis, you'll be taking an important step towards giving our water supply the reverence it deserves.
UPDATE Summer 2015: Since we first put this page together the climate has already noticeably changed and California is in the midst of a severe drought. People all over the state are cutting their water usage, though many aren't 100% aware of just how serious the current drought is. With our reservoirs holding only one year's worth of water--and this is just for the human population, never mind wildlife--every person in California needs resources and support to be on their best water-saving behavior. Here are a few new resources for saving as much water as you can:
http://www.improvenet.com/a/water-conservation-at-home This one was brought to us by an amazing group of kids at Camp Price in Prentice, WI! They used Grow Your Oakland's resource links while working on the water conservation part of their 'Going Green' program, and thought we should include this link too. They recommend it as 'a basic overview for children on water conservation in the home and its benefits, with links to several great sources for both children and adults.' Thanks Camp Price!