May 14, 2015

Reduce Your Water Use for the Morro Bay Estuary

It’s no news that we’re facing a prolonged drought in California. The drought affects both people and wildlife. With less rainwater running down hillsides, into creeks, and ending up in the Morro Bay estuary, the plants and animals that live in the watershed and the bay have to make do with less.

Brown Pelicans
Photo of Brown Pelicans on the mud flats by Ruth Ann Angus


Fish, like the native California steelhead that travel down streams in our watershed, through the estuary, out into the ocean, and back again, face an especially grim fate. We can help steelhead and other species thrive by using less water, so that more is left for them.

The first step to consuming less is figuring out how much water you’re using now.


How much water do you use?

Your water usage depends on different factors like the age and type of appliances in your house, the length of your showers, and more.

Use the table below to figure out how much water you use per day. Multiply the approximate water use per activity by the number of times you do that activity per day to get the total per activity. Then, add the totals for each activity to get your total daily water use.

Water Use

There are also a number of online tools, like this Home Water Works calculator, that can help you calculate your total daily water use.


How can you reduce your use of water?

Now that you know how much water you’re using, you’re ready to figure out where to cut down. There are plenty of free ways to save water:

  1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth or scrub dishes
  2. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when they’re full
  3. Place a plastic bottle filled with water and pebbles into your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush
  4. Take shorter showers, or shallower baths

We recommend making small cuts first and working up to bigger ones, since you’re less likely to keep a new routine if it feels drastic. If you’ve always loved taking a long shower, for example, don’t try to go from 20 minutes to 10 minutes all at once. Instead, try setting a timer for your shower and shave off one minute every 5 to 7 days. Once that feels normal, go for another minute. Cutting just that one minute off your shower can save up to 70 gallons of water per week!

If you’re ready to commit to some water-saving updates or improvements in your home, consider these low-cost options:

  1. Low-flow sink aerators are cheap and effective—You can purchase them at a home improvement store for $5 to $15, and they can save you 2 gallons of water per minute of use.
  2. Low-flow shower heads—Far from the weak-spraying showerheads of yesteryear, newer models are designed to spray forcefully, so you still get squeaky clean. Best of all, they’re available for around $30, and they have the potential to save you more than that on your water and sewer bills.


Want to learn more?

For more tips on reducing water use, check out our “Bayside Living Guide,” it’s available here, in our online library, or in print at our office. You can also take the Clean Water Pledge and check the box to sign up for our mailing list. We’ll keep you informed!