Water Efficiency: It’s a way of life

As residents of Southern California, it is important to remember that we live in a semi-arid area that receives very little rainfall and has limited local water resources.

Image:  Californians Don't Waste Water

We must all work together to use water as efficiently as possible to ensure adequate supplies during those hot summer months and in the years to come.

It's a simple equation:

If we use less water, existing supplies will go further.

That's why water efficiency has become a significant component of SMWD's water supply planning strategy.  Over the years, SMWD customers have been able to save millions of gallons of water through rebate programs, plumbing retrofits, and improved awareness of the need to use our water resources wisely.

Ways to Conserve:

Conserving Water Outside Your Home


  • Water your lawn only when necessary.  If you step on your grass and it springs back, it doesn't need water.  Adjust your sprinklers accordingly.  Or take your lawn out!  We have a Turf Removal Rebate.


  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk or driveway.


  • Adjust your sprinklers so they water your plants and not the sidewalk or driveway.


  • Many shrubs, trees, and groundcovers utilize less water than grass.
  • Landscaping with native, drought-resistant plants can save lots of water.

Washing Your Car

  • Wash your car with a bucket and a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle or at a commercial carwash that uses recycled water.


  • Utilize a drip irrigation system when possible and try to group plants together that require the same amount of water.  CLICK HERE to find out more about a limited spray-to-drip retrofit rebate going on.
  • Adjust your automatic sprinklers according to the season, and have them go off more frequently in the spring and summer, and less frequently in the fall and winter.  For more information on watering schedules, CLICK HERE to view our watering calendar.

Conserving Water Inside Your Home


  • Install premium high efficiency toilets that use 1.1 gallons per flush versus standard toilets, which use 3.5 to 6 gallons.
  • Tune up your leaky toilets - the number one water waster in your home.  One leaky toilet can waste up to 78,000 gallons of water in one year - enough to fill a swimming pool!
  • Turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead.

Washing Machine

  • Wash only full loads in the washing machine.


  • Capture tap water in a watering can while waiting for hot water.  Use this water for your houseplants.
  • Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage can more.
  • Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.

Urban Runoff: Conservation’s Worst Enemy

Every time you let the sprinklers run too long or wash your car in the driveway, you’re contributing to a major county-wide problem – urban runoff.  All of that excess water can carry pollution like fertilizers, motor oil, and pesticides into local storm drains, where it eventually makes its way into local creeks and then to the ocean.  Cities and local water districts are working hard to reduce urban runoff in an effort to conserve our supplies and limit impacts to water quality along our shores.

You Can Help Prevent Runoff

Government officials and water districts have teamed up to develop ways to reduce and prevent urban runoff, but they can’t do it alone.  Everyone needs to make sure to be water-wise inside and outside of the home, so that our environment is clean for all of us to enjoy.  Here are a few tips your can incorporate into your daily routine to help prevent urban runoff:

  • If you park your car outside, check for and promptly fix oil leaks.  If your car is leaking oil, the rain will wash that oil right into the storm drain.
  • Pick up pet waste and place it in the trash.  When walking your pets, carry a plastic bag with you at all times for this purpose.  Pet waste is one of the biggest contributors to runoff pollution.
  • Reduce the amount of fertilizer and pesticides used on your landscape and don’t over-water your lawn and plants.  Over-watering allows these contaminants to be carried off your property and into storm drains.
  • Don’t dispose of motor oil, paint products, car detergents, and similar pollutants down storm drains.  Dispose of paints and oil products at approved disposal sites.  Call 1-800-CLEANUP for the site nearest you.
  • Use a broom or rake to clean up yard debris and dispose of it in the trash.  Don’t wash down your driveway or sidewalk with a hose.
  • Keep your property free of litter that can potentially clog storm drains.
  • Refrain from littering.  When you see litter, pick it up.

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