California could reduce urban water use by 30% or more, research shows

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Green leafy vegetables, old appliances and leaky pipes consume much of California’s water, and researchers have cited new research that could allow the state to reduce water use in up to 30% in cities and areas about to invest in water use measures.

The study by the Pacific Institute, a watershed in Oakland, also found that urban areas could not be used to reduce problems in rivers and aquifers that are heavily used by investing in local programs to recycle and capture wastewater. Although the researchers decided that more water conservation could be implemented in the state, they said the most important thing to leave in Southern California to reduce water use in and out is to reuse it. stored wastewater and re -collects the streams when it rains.

“California has made great progress in recent years in reducing water use and increasing local water supplies,” said Heather Cooley, the institute’s research director. “Without those actions in the past, our water problems will be even more difficult.

California went through a severe drought from 2012 to 2016 and is now the third year of a drought that is among the worst in history. In the West, research has shown that fossil fuels are increasing drought and global warming.

The city uses a total of 6.6 million square feet per year. The study found that a wide range of technologies and practices can improve the efficiency by reducing urban use by between 30% and 48%. These best practices include fixing leaks in water pipes, replacing improper washing machines and toilets, and replacing lawns with suitable plants. the dry cold of California, and so on.

The researchers believed that California could significantly increase its domestic water supply by capturing wastewater and storing it in aquifers, instead of allowing it to run out of land. Depending on the dry or wet year, they said, the state can catch between 580,000 and 3 million square feet of violence in cities.

California re-uses about 23% of its urban sewage, 728,000-square-foot, the report said, which could add a third of the amount recycled and reused.

If these plans are increased quickly in the state, Cooley said, “more millions of Californians will see short -term drought relief and long -term improvements in the reliability of their water supply.”

In the report, released Tuesday, Cooley and his colleagues shared some examples of water conservation projects and projects they said are examples.

Among them, the Pure Water Monterey project manages wastewater and wastewater that can be used to fill groundwater. In Fresno, the water department is working on storm water bottles. Long Beach has a transportation program that provides water conservation to homeowners in low -lying areas. And San Francisco has a law that requires high -pressure plumbing fixtures when buying a home.

The authors of the study said they found the most important water conservation in the Southern California region, including Los Angeles and San Diego, was largely because of the best. more than half of the state’s population, but because it has a large outdoor landscape, hotter air than the Bay Area, a lot of fresh water and many areas in bad water can be caught.

They said the times in the country were different. For example, 29% of wastewater is recycled on the South Coast, while only 9% of wastewater is recycled in the Bay Area.

The improvements outlined in the report could help California become more difficult in a more difficult and unpredictable environment, Cooley said, and could also help better understand the challenges. navigation systems in other parts of the Americas and around the world.

Although the study did not look at reasonable costs, the authors pointed out that some of the effects mentioned are other benefits, such as reducing water problems, helping soft water ecosystems. , preventing the release of wastewater into the ocean, and reducing energy levels. used for pumping and carrying water.

“These designs are proven, are more cost effective, and they can provide water reliability,” Cooley said.

The study did not look at the associated costs of industrial projects such as dams or desalination plants.

“We knew we needed to invest in solving California’s water problems. And implementing these options would be easier and more efficient and faster than implementing traditional ones. and we have done in the state in the past, ”said Peter Gleick., co -founder of the Pacific Institute and president emeritus.

As for desalination, Gleick said, the company didn’t consider the grant because while it can provide plenty of water, “it’s incredibly expensive, energy efficient, has environmental benefits.”

While ideas for new reservoirs are being debated because of their cost and viability, Gleick said, much of the water conservation of the dam projects is expected. quite rightly “nowhere near the amount of water we’re talking about here.”

The study shows that Californians are very successful in using water. The city’s water use increased in 2007 by about 10 million square feet per year, and has since dropped to less than 7 million square feet. this year.

Researchers have said that increasing water-efficiency initiatives could help increase those savings over the long term. They didn’t pay attention to short -term drought practices, such as taking in the rain or leaving the leaves to darken.

“What we’re looking at is technologies and practices that are proven to be able to reduce water use,” Gleick said.

The research team used data submitted to the state by water suppliers to calculate current use, and then listed indicators of effective and efficient water quality improvement. Ana.

The high -performance concept requires people to remove the leaves and install low -water use plants. While there are many ways to save water when using outdoor water, the report says, there are some ways to cut corners indoors.

Gleick shared a personal experience from his home. A few years ago, he replaced his 6-gallon-per-flush white houses with new ones that were in good condition at the time, and he used 1.6 gallons for the flush. . Now, the current standard is less than 1.3 gallons per flush.

“If I change my own toilets like the current situation, I’ll have better home maintenance services than I ever had before,” Gleick said. “And there’s that kind of tool change, the building process, the building archives, that’s part of this that can’t be used.”

He said the findings show that California, as it has had in recent years, has a lot of potential to improve water quality and increase water supply. This should be followed immediately as the state faces increasing drought and climate change.

The researchers provided a list of ideas for water suppliers and local, state and federal agencies to implement water conservation plans and raise funding for activities such as rebate programs. and water restoration projects.

The study looked at urban water use and not at agriculture, which accounts for about 80% of the water used by humans in California.

“The farmer has already seen the cuts due to the lack of surface water,” Gleick said. “They’re changing the types of crops. They’re improving the efficiency of irrigation, by changing the irrigation technology. There’s a lot of inefficiency in agriculture. And it needs to be fixed.”

He added that the fact that farmers can use less should not reduce the importance of creating “good resources in every region,” with cities and communities around the state.


A sign the drought is declining: California officials to send more water to farmers, cities


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Directions: California can reduce water use in cities by 30% or more, according to a study (2022, April 12) retrieved April 12, 2022 from https: // phys. org/news/2022-04-c California-cities.html

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