As you probably already know, the City of Sacramento has used a flat-rate billing system for its water utilities for a century. Recent legislation, however, mandates that the Sacramento have water meters installed for all commercial and residential buildings by the year 2025.
Although that date is over a decade away, it is a good idea to begin preparing for the switch as soon as possible by utilizing a few water-saving tips. Now, you might be asking yourself:
Why Should I Have to Change Anything Now if the Deadline is 2025?
While conserving water is a good practice for anyone to engage in, there is a reason why you would want to start conserving water right away.
Despite the fact that the deadline is over a decade away, the City of Sacramento has already begun the process of changing over homes and businesses to the new water meter system. The reason for starting the process now is that the City has to install roughly 110,000 of these meters, which takes a long while to accomplish. Plus, as the cityofsacramento.org website also explains, "with the city's aging infrastructure, many meter installations also include relocating leaky water mains from customers' backyards to the street. In addition, the State law requiring water meters provided no funding to help offset costs."
In other words, installing a water meter often means having to do complete rearrangements of the layouts of underground pipes, and this has to be done within the budget that was established only for basic maintenance. In 2009, federal financial aid was granted to Sacramento to be used for the installment of new meters, allowing Sacramento utility workers to "triple the number of meter installed in one year." A mixed blessing for homeowners who are used to the old flat-rate system, to be sure. According to their utilities webpage, Sacramento has completed roughly 25% of the meter installations that they began in 2005.
As the deadline for the switch to metered water billing draws ever closer, it is likely that Sacramento will speed up the process of installing water meters in order to make the deadline imposed by the State of California's water meter legislation.
So, How Can I Cut My Water Use?
Thankfully, water conservation is probably easier to do than you might think. If you look up "water conservation tips" in a web search, odds are you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of web pages that offer you advice on how to lower your monthly water bill. Here are a few of the suggestions we found to be especially helpful:
- Use Low-Flow Products - As reported by National Geographic, "1994 was the year that federally mandated low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets started to appear." If your home or business has plumbing fixtures that were manufactured after '94, odds are that you already have a low-flow product. For older homes and businesses, you will want to check. After all, a low-flow showerhead can save you 15 gallons of water for every 10 minutes that you use it.
As for toilets, traditional toilets use 3 or more gallons of water per flush, while a low-flow toilet only uses about 1.6 gallons. However, you may want to make sure your plumbing system is compatible with a low-flow system, as some older homes may have improperly installed pipes that require a heavier water flow to carry away waste.
- Load that Dishwasher- On average, a dishwashing machine uses about 4-6 gallons of water per load. Hand-washing dishes consumes 20 gallons with each load of dishes done. Also, you should only run full loads in order to maximize your water conservation benefit.
- Find and Fix Leaks - Did you know that, on average, 14% of your indoor water use is lost to leaks? Yes, that slow drip from the kitchen & bathroom sinks and your bathtub can account for a pretty large chunk of the water bill. Look at it this way: if leaks take up 14% of your water usage, then that would be like getting billed for eight days of water usage every week instead of seven days each week.
- Avoid Top - Loading Laundry Machines- The vast majority of front-loading washing machines are both energy and water efficient, which will save you money on electricity and metered water bills alike. Traditional, non-efficient top-loaded machines generally use twice as much water per load as the newer, front-loaded models.
- Cover That Pool - If you have a swimming pool, it can be a great way to relax in the beautiful California sun, but it can also be a huge drain on your water budget. As that huge water container sits in the hot summer sun, the liquid inside will begin to evaporate as the heat starts to affect the pool. If you are not using the pool, covering it can prevent the loss of hundreds of gallons of water each month, meaning less time and money spent re-filling the pool. Plus, using a cover properly can prevent leaves and other debris from landing in the pool and making a mess of it.
- Proper Watering - A lot of people are fairly careless about the way they water their lawns. As Jessica Hess, an official associated with the Sacramento Department of Utilities, stated in an interview published by newsreview.com, "outdoor watering can make up 65 percent of overall water use." Not only does improper watering waste water, but it can actually cause more harm to your yard than good.
While the City of Sacramento Utilities website has a tip sheetfor how to conserve water outdoors, here are a few highlights worth mentioning:
- Avoid watering during the hot hours of the day. If you are going to water the lawn, do it before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. In between these hours, it can be so hot that the water evaporates even as you are spraying it, causing you to use much more than you would normally have to.
- Adjust your sprinklers to prevent overspray. If your sprinklers are hitting the sidewalk, that water is going to waste. Try to adjust their spray so that all of the water hits your yard.
- Clean sidewalks with a broom, not a hose. As the city's tip sheet says, using a broom can save up to 18 gallons of water per minute versus spraying the sidewalk off with a hose.
By following a few easy tips and tricks, you can minimize your water usage and be ready for Sacramento's switch from flat-rate water billing to metered water billing. If you need any more advice about water conservation, or need to have your pipes fixed or replaced, please do not hesitate to contact your Sacramento experts for assistance today.