Water Usage in The Drought

As a New Mexican, water conservation has been a part of my life since well before California's recent drought. Yet, despite best efforts, I have had a hard time decreasing usage, until recently.

Although my records don't last the entire time I've lived in my current house, I do have more than two years of utility bills handy to review my usage. As you can see in the chart, only in the past few months have I made significant year-over-year progress.

Before the chart went down we did a number of things:

  • Install rain barrels
  • Convert to rotor sprinkler heads from spray
  • Convert some sprinklers to drip where appropriate
  • Continually attempt to adjust the schedule
  • Converted our curb to xeriscape/drought-tolerant

Last year, we noticed a very significant issue wherein it turned out our sprinkler controller would go off, quite randomly. The latest in Internet-connected controllers weren't ready, so we had our landscapers put in a "smart" device.

The new controller:

  • Doesn't go off randomly
  • Has soil type and sprinkler type intelligence
  • Has a moisture detector to turn-off during rain, etc.

This had a significant impact on improving (decreasing) water usage. It was easy to turn off in the rare case of rain, and didn't run excessively (once we figured it out, that took a while).

This fall, we also converted 75% of our front yard to xeriscape. The remaining 25% is UC Davis Verde Buffalo grass, which is a hybrid designed to be low water (once established).

As you can see from the chart above, this has had a significant impact so far. We're excited to see this continue and contribute to the 28% Pasadena goal. We aren't hitting that goal every month, but we're doing pretty well, I think.

As a side note, this is really being done for environmental reasons. The cost of converting to drought tolerant (including a new walkway in the front) would take years and year to make back in water savings. Water is still very cheap.