What is the right length of time for the California drought shower?

On chilly mornings by Los Angeles standards, Camilo Loza sometimes takes a hot shower before hitting the gym.

After training on the Stairmaster, Loza cycled home to the Windsor Hills and showered again. And a few nights a week, Loza takes a bath for the third time after coming home from work.

California is now in the third year of its worst drought on record. But Loza says showering is an occasional pleasure in a studio apartment with no lawn, no garden and no pool.

“My use of water is quite minimal and mostly convenience,” says Loza, 32, who works as logistics for an heirloom food company. Loza previously worked as a kitchen assistant at restaurants and hotels, and left that job thinking that even modest water cuts at organizations and businesses “have a profound impact.” much more than anything I can do at home.”

Driven by worsening drought conditions and supplies from a complex system of reservoirs, canals and dams that supply water to millions of people, the Metropolitan County has enacted its most stringent water shutdown order yet. so far last month. Starting June 1, nearly 4 million Los Angeles customers will face new restrictions on water use, with outdoor watering limited to two days per week.

Governor Gavin Newsom told the state’s largest water suppliers last week that if conservation efforts do not improve this summer, the state could be forced to impose mandatory restrictions. According to state officials, water use in cities and towns across California increased by nearly 19% in March compared with 2020.

The shower has not appeared yet. But officials are encouraging Californians to conserve water wherever they can, including in the shower, one of the easiest places to waste — or save — a few gallons a day.

This begs the question: How long is the right time to shower? Is that the national average of eight minutes, which the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates uses more than one trillion gallons a year? Is that the so-called Navy shower – turn on the water for 30 seconds, lather, rinse in a minute or so?

Or the Newsom model? The governor encouraged Californians last month to shorten their shower time to 5 minutes and move away from tubs, which could use 2.5 times as much water.

It’s second nature to some Californians who are in the habit of getting stuck after past droughts. Others are now tinkering with their behaviors, sticking egg timers to the shower wall, installing a lower-flow showerhead, or turning off the faucet while they’re foaming.

Zan Dubin-Scott started putting a watering can in her shower to get water, then using it to water her potted plants.

Zan Dubin-Scott, who lives in Santa Monica, recently started putting a watering can in the shower to catch water as it warms up. The 2.1-gallon terracotta bucket doesn’t hold as much as the 5-gallon tubs others recommend, but Dubin-Scott knows she can easily pick it up and reuse the water on the planters. mine.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Zan Dubin-Scott, who lives in Santa Monica, recently started putting a watering can in the shower to catch water as it warms up.

The 2.1-gallon terracotta bucket doesn’t hold as much as the 5-gallon tubs others recommend, but Dubin-Scott knows she can easily pick it up and reuse the water on the planters. mine.

Dubin-Scott said, “It’s about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. “Imagine if every Californian could plug a nice little watering can into their shower and save 2.1 gallons a day.”

But losing or shrinking back into the relaxing, comforting solitude of a daily bath can be a tough sell, even during drought. Some people say that if a few extra gallons go down the drain, they still want to give up anything else first.

Enia Titova, 40, a lawyer in San Francisco, said: ‘In this hellish scene we’re living in, it’s the only joy I have left.

The bathroom is one of the few places where Titova can put off her phone and relax. The warm water soothed her aching joints. Sometimes, she does a little yoga. She rarely goes out for less than 20 minutes.

Titova said she lives an often water-conscious life, in a small apartment with no yard and on a meat-based diet where there are large traces of water. So taking a longer shower doesn’t worry her.

“Not to say too much about the metaphor, but my shower is a drop in the bucket,” says Titova. “I want to keep my shower as long as possible in human terms.”

Zan Dubin-Scott uses bath water on her potted plants

“Imagine if every Californian plugged a nice little watering can into their shower and saved 2.1 gallons a day,” says Zan Dubin-Scott, here, using water collected from the shower for her potted plants.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

About 80 percent of California’s water is used for agriculture, said Heather Cooley, research director at the Pacific Institute, an Oakland nonprofit focused on water issues. used for home, business, factory and institution.

About two-thirds of water in urban areas is for residential use, and this water is fairly evenly split between indoor and outdoor uses, she said.

One person’s showering habits won’t end the drought. But every Californian should still strive to have a sober mindset, she said.

“There is always a larger user base out there,” Cooley said. “There is always a crop that uses more water, or someone who owns more land, or someone with a larger yard. The inevitable conclusion is that no one does anything. But what we really need is for everyone to do something together.”

But the “something” isn’t necessarily a shorter shower, activists say. Californians can eat less meat, which requires a lot of water to produce. They can install low-flow devices. Or they can learn more about proposed infrastructure changes and legislation that will encourage better water use among large organizations and companies.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to cut back on showers and car washes and replace their lawns with xeriscaping,” said Jennifer Molidor, a senior food campaigner at conservation group Center for Biodiversity. “But they should also put pressure against the biggest city users and larger users in general.”

And then there’s one change that anyone can make, including tenants: turn off your shower.

Showers account for about 17 percent of domestic water use across the United States, according to federal data. That number is believed to be slightly lower in California, in part due to the country’s strictest equipment standards.

California limits the water flow of showerheads sold in the state to 1.8 gallons per minute, up to 28% less than older models that can use up to 2.5 gallons per minute.

“Exchanging an older shower for a more efficient model is” a guaranteed way to save more water, says Terrence McCarthy, a water resources policy manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity. no need to think about it”.

DWP is mailing free showers and faucet aerators to customers who request them.

Average daily water use for residential customers at DWP, which includes everything from watering the lawn to drinking a glass, is 76 to 77 gallons, McCarthy said.

The utility asked residential customers to reduce their daily water use by 7 gallons, a cut of about 10%. Those savings could be achieved by cutting back to 4 minutes in daily showers or turning off the faucet while brushing and shaving, the utility says.

During previous droughts, the department recommended that residents try “Navy” showers – which turn on when the faucet is turned off – and place a bucket under the faucet to collect water as it heats up. That water, free of soap and any debris, can be reused to quench thirsty house or garden plants.

Jean Rowley of Huntington Beach says her household has changed their showers to get more efficient samples.

But in the last few years, she has also scaled back her bathing after reading media reports of a lack of rainfall and seeing arid hills while driving on the freeway.

Rowley, a retired math teacher, has a habit of liking science: On the first day, she gets a full workout, then takes an eight to 10 minute shower, which includes washing her hair. On day 2, she rested. And on day 3, she cycled, then quickly exfoliated without washing her hair.

Rowley says scaling back on daily showers isn’t a huge sacrifice, because she’s always seen showering as “just one thing on her to-do list. I almost find it annoying.”

All of the changes have given Rowley a sense of confidence, she says, that “when the tougher requirements go into effect, I’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, I did it.’ ”

Howard Seth Cohen, a substitute teacher who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Echo Park with his wife and two cats, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Echo Park. Instead, he said, every customer should receive the same allocation, no matter where they live.

“If they ask us to restrict its use, it should be distributed fairly,” Cohen said. “It doesn’t matter whether a person lives on a larger plot of land or has a yard. That person is not allowed to use more water than a person in an urban apartment.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-29/california-drought-showers-ladwp-newsom-water-efficiency-restrictions What is the right length of time for the California drought shower?

Edmund DeMarche

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