Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Winter is finally upon us, and that means less worry about water usage, right? Wrong. Water conservation is just as important during cold days as it is on hot days. Be a responsible Watershed Warrior by preparing for rain, recognizing the signs of overwatering, and reducing water usage on a regular basis.

  1. Keep Your Storm Drains Clean: Rake leaves and grass clippings before they can get into the street, where most storm drains are found. Sweep the sidewalk and the gutters to remove debris that can clog the storm drain. Consider purchasing a rain barrel to collect water run-off from your roof. Use this water in your garden and keep it from being stormwater run-off.
  2. Create Your Own Oasis: Grass is usually not as vibrant during the winter. However, if there are many dry patches, you’ve most likely been overwatering your lawn. Take advantage of these mild winter days to xeriscape your yard. Replace grass with drought tolerant plants and landscaping to save water not only in the colder months but for the seasons to come.
  3. Take Control of Your Sprinklers: If you decide to keep a green lawn, be mindful of overwatering. Daily watering is not necessary, especially during the winter. Use your irrigation system effectively and adjust your sprinklers for water conservation. When rain is in the forecast, make sure your sprinklers are shut off, or install sensors that detect rainwater.
  4. Save Water All Day, Every Day: Continue conservation practices even when it’s not summer. Take showers instead of baths, wash full loads of laundry in cold water, and turn the sink off when brushing your teeth and washing dishes.

Whether it’s the middle of winter or the peak of summer, water conservation should be part of everyday life. SoCalWater$mart is a program from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that offers rebates for items like irrigation systems, sprinklers nozzles and rain barrels to help you incorporate these tips and save money.

4 Hot Tips to Grill Like a Watershed Warrior

Cook outs at parks, campsites, lakes and beaches are a Southern California summer tradition. Whether you haul your Hibachi or stake a claim on a public grill and picnic table, these tips will help you fire up the grill and not the watershed.

Claim Your Spot: Check the weather report to determine if the climate is appropriate for grilling. Make sure fires are permitted in your preferred dining destination and clear the immediate area of flammable leaves and debris. Refrain from propping the grill up against a tree or wooden structures. Find the perfect spot through Riverside County Regional Park and Open Space District.

Choose to Reuse: Keep waste out of the watershed by choosing reusables. Replace plastic or paper disposables with washable napkins, tablecloth, plates, cups and utensils. Buy in bulk to save money and reduce packaging waste.

Fire Up the Grill: For charcoal grills, get the flames blazing with chimney-style or electric fire starters instead of toxic lighter fluid or petroleum-based products. If you barbecue frequently, consider replacing your charcoal grill with an electric or gas grill to reduce pollutants.

Keep it Clean: Let ashes cool completely for 48 hours. Speed up the process by dousing with water, stirring carefully. Charcoals and charcoal ash are highly flammable, so they should never be emptied directly into a trash bin. Instead, wrap them in aluminum foil or place in a noncombustible container such as an old coffee or paint can before disposing in a noncombustible trash bin. Always leave the site in the same condition (or better!) as you found it. Dispose of any empty matchboxes, lighters, or other disposable items in a waste bin. Bring an extra trash bag to make collecting trash easier.

Roughing It Without Roughing Up the Watershed

Riverside County is home to several bodies of water with adjoining campgrounds, such as Lake Skinner and Lake Cahuilla. An opportunity for lots of fun comes with lots of responsibility, too. In order to preserve our watersheds, here are some guidelines for a camping trip that will make Mother Nature proud:

  • Hiking: While exploring off-trail may be intriguing, refrain from creating new paths. Sticking to the established trails prevents erosion, limits damaged vegetation or animal habitat, and reduces the amount of human impact.
  • Fire Safety: To build a fire, bring your own wood or purchase it at the campground. Never gather firewood in the park. Use only designated firepits, never open ground. Be sure to put the fire out completely when you are finished.
  • Hygiene: When available, use sinks and showers instead of engaging in personal hygiene in the outdoors. Many types of toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, and soaps have ingredients that are harmful to our watersheds. Choose products that are eco-friendly when possible.
  • Pet Safety: Furry members of the family should be supervised at all times and kept on controlled leashes. Just like at home, your pet’s waste should be cleaned up promptly and properly.
  • Leave No Trace: Always thoroughly clean your site before you leave. Do not remove, deface, or disturb any part of the park features or wildlife. When setting up camp, do not attach anything to the trees.

Spending a relaxing weekend in Nature is easy to do with so many terrific sites close to home. Check out the Riverside County Regional Park and Open Space District website for information about reservations this summer. Follow these tips, and remember: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

How Can I Conserve Water?

That is the question everyone has been asking ever since Governor Brown urged every Californian to cut their water use by 20%. On average, Riverside residents use around 70 million gallons of water each day. To keep in step with the Governor’s proposal, we each need to save about 15 gallons a day.

Luckily there are some simple ways to conserve water in the home that can really add up.

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth: 10 gallons
  • Install a low-flow showerhead: 12.5 gallons
  • Shorten your shower to 5 minutes: 12.5 gallons
  • Use the light wash setting on your dishwasher (and don’t pre-rinse): 8 gallons
  • Put aerators in kitchen and bathroom sinks: 3 gallons

To conserve more water outside of the home, try the following tips when tending to your lawns and gardens:

  • Let the grass grow to twice the typical length. The denser grass will help reduce evaporation and lessen your need to water.
  • Plant drought-resistant native plants, which have adapted to our low-water climate and won’t need regular watering after they’ve been established.
  • Install spray nozzles for your hoses to keep water from gushing out as you move it around the yard.
  • Clean driveways and walkways with a broom—not a hose.
  • Turn off sprinklers in the parkway between the street and the lawn. The Western Municipal Water District is offering rebates for high-efficiency sprinkles nozzles and free precision spray nozzles while supplies last!
  • Replace your thirsty grass lawn with drought-friendly designs.

For more water conservation tips, visit Save Your Water or the Metropolitan Water District.

In what ways are you already conserving water in your life?

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