Many of us have drought on our minds these days. Even if you don’t live in California, you probably have come across stories about the Golden State’s struggle to deal with dismally low snowpacks, emptying reservoirs, and thirsty agricultural industry.
For many Californians, a big ongoing conversation is about conservation. On April 1, Gov. Brown issued a mandatory 25 percent consumption cut from the 2013 levels for homes and businesses in big cities and little towns. Since then, I have heard many conversations from friends and strangers wondering how they are going to cut their water use, especially if they already have been reducing their consumption to comply with mandatory or voluntary restrictions imposed by their cities or water districts in the past year.
That’s an interesting puzzle to solve. While many of us have meters to tell us how much we need to pay for our household water use, we tend to have a muddy picture of where all that water goes. There are educated guesses, of course. If you have a large yard with lush grass and big leafy plants, then it’s likely that most of the water goes to irrigation. But you don’t have hard data unless you have a meter that measures only outdoor irrigation. Beyond the big, obvious water needs around the house, pipes and appliances can leak for hours and days unnoticed. Sensors and modern, digital meters that break down water use by the minute could alert you to this overlooked waste, but the vast majority of our homes and businesses don’t have those smart meters. (more…)