California may no longer be in a drought (for now), but we still have three primary goals to make water conservation a way of life:
First, use water more wisely. Second, eliminate water waste. Third, strengthen local drought resiliency. It’s important that Healdsburg continues to adapt for more efficient water uses as climate change continues to impact our natural-water resources.
Use water more wisely
Nearly 70% of Healdsburg’s water use is residential. In winter months, residential average water usage is 59 gallons per capita daily. In the summer, that number rises to 139 gallons per capita daily. That’s a whopping 136% increase in the summer.
What accounts for this huge jump in water use? Landscaping and irrigation is the major contributor in the summer months. While landscaping provides benefits, such as community beautification, carbon sequestration, and urban heat-island mitigation, your lawn and gardens should be maintained in a way that is water wise.
Planting drought-tolerant native plants and non-turf landscapes cuts down much of your yard’s thirst. As an incentive, we offer a rebate of $1 for every square foot of existing turf, such as grass, that you change to low- and no-water landscaping. In 2017 and 2018, 43 Healdsburg residents and two businesses converted 1.55 acres (67,800 square feet) through the lawn-conversion rebate program. That’s $67,800 in rebates. To learn more about this rebate program and to apply, go here.
Eliminate water waste
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the water leaks in the average U.S. household accounts for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted annually. Repairing leaks will reduce water waste, and save money on your water-utility bill.
Check for leaks in your irrigation system regularly. If you repair a leak in your water system, the city’s Utility Billing Department will provide a leak-adjustment credit as an incentive and reward for your quick repair of leaks. Go here to learn how to read your water meter and detect leaks.
Detect and fix bathroom and kitchen water leaks. If your sink or bathtub faucets leak just one drip per second, you could waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.
Strengthen local drought resiliency
One of the major lessons we learned from the historic 2012-16 drought was the need for ongoing drought resiliency. In 2014, the city of Healdsburg implemented effective measures such as restricting irrigation to certain days and times to minimize the impacts of drought with widespread participation from the community. The city reduced water usage by 35% in 2016 compared to 2013.
The Utility Department also works to offset the demand of potable water. The city’s wastewater treatment plant produces high-quality recycled water by way of a rigorous tertiary-treated process. Recycled water is a local, reliable and safe water supply that reduces the need to develop new freshwater supply sources. Our recycled water is used for beneficial, non-potable purposes, such as vineyard irrigation. In 2018, we distributed 24 million gallons of recycled water to offset demands on potable water.
Felicia Smith is the city’s utility conservation analyst.