by Charlene Burgi
It seems water districts in Marin and Sonoma have thrown down the gauntlet to any knight in shining armor willing to pick up the challenge of attempting to save 20 gallons of water a day.
In the days of knights and damsels in distress, a knight would throw down his glove of chainmail to challenge another to run a course or path. The opponent would accept the challenge by picking up the glove and running the course while getting whacked by various objects along the way in order to show just how fearless he was.
While the water districts’ challenge doesn’t involve getting hit by objects, it still requires a plan to help you successfully navigate the course to water savings. The first rule of thumb for me when facing a challenge is to seek out information. The 20 Gallon Challenge website has water conservation ideas to get you started. If you’re looking for more, websites like h2ouse.org and home-water-works.org provide oodles of information on how to save water. MMWD’s website has step-by-step instructions on how to test for leaky toilets, sheet mulch and oh-so-much more.
Next, I talk to friends, family or anyone I admire for their ability to meet the challenge at hand. When I told Jack about this 20 Gallon Challenge, he quickly came back with two very easy answers:
- Cut two minutes off each station of the irrigation controller. Each station could equate to 20 gallons or more per minute, depending on the type of nozzle and number of sprinklers on each valve. You can do the math for your own yard. First check what type of nozzle you are using, then multiply the nozzle’s flow rate times the number of nozzles on the station to come up with total gallons of water used per minute, per station.
Place hose-end nozzles on each hose to shut off the water automatically when you release the handle. It is amazing how much water you can lose walking back to the faucet if you are hand watering your plants.
It also helps me to visualize the path and obstacles I face before entering into the fray. What does the challenge look like? Just how much water is 20 gallons? A half a bathtub is a good guess. Twenty gallons can run down the drain in a ten-minute shower if you are using a showerhead emitting two gallons of water a minute. Some of you might be using showerheads releasing over five gallons per minute. We had an ancient toilet at our cabin in Lake County that used five gallons for each flush, compared to high-efficiency toilet that uses less than 1.3 gallons. We decided that was a lot of wasted water and installed a new toilet. The old toilet will make an excellent flower planter for the funky landscape! Do you have a potential planter waiting to be installed in the garden instead of being hooked into your household plumbing? Four flushes a day on that old cabin toilet used 20 gallons of water!
Once I talk to experts and visualize what I am facing, I need to weigh the risk or sacrifice and ask if I am willing to put myself on the path toward potential reward. In the case of the 20 Gallon Challenge, I may need to sacrifice some time to turn back the controller two minutes per station, or run to the store to purchase a new showerhead. You may need to spend a few minutes to call and schedule a free water audit, or sacrifice some money in the short-term to fix a leak and gain long-term savings on your water bill.
Without a doubt, with challenges come risks. With challenges also come rewards. The reward for this challenge is in all the water saved. We are facing a very dry year and conserving water now will help keep water in our reservoirs in case of another dry year. The reward is also the money you will save on your water bill and the potential of winning some awesome prizes.
With that, I am throwing down the gauntlet. Are you willing to pick up the glove?