Tips for surviving the next drought

Last winter, the rains were plentiful. This spring and summer, the rivers have been gushing, lakes have been full and waterfalls have been crashing.

It’s a scene we haven’t had in the Bay Area in quite some time. But since the drought ended, all the regular water usage has returned – flushing normally, watering our gardens more than once a month, leaving the water going occasionally and not worrying about it…

That said, we’re still in California and we’re still in an accelerated state of global warming (according to most climatologists, anyway). So, there will be another drought. Here are some Bay Area-specific tips from the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) for surviving the next one:

Know your water provider’s Drought Program and its requirements

Every water provider should have a Drought Program. Contact them to make sure you know what their requirements are, ahead of the next drought. If you have CCWD, you can sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

Know how much water you are using

You can read your water meter to better understand how much water you’re using. However, that can be tricky. Here are some tips on CCWD’s website: www.ccwater.com.

Check for leaks

You can also utilize your meter to check for leaks. One of the most common leaks and wastes of water comes from the toilet. Check regularly!

Use efficient fixtures and appliances

You should always get EnergyStar appliances if possible, and you should have a toilet with 1.28gpf or less. Check if yours does at www.map-testing.com. Also, make sure your laundry loads are always full and don’t leave faucets running!

Convert lawns to gardens

Some water providers offer rebates for converting a lawn to a garden. For example, CCWD offers $1 per square foot of lawn converted ($1,000 maximum residential, $20,000 maximum Commercial/HOA). And California will give you a state rebate for front and back lawn conversions as well. Plus, it just looks prettier!

If you irrigate, do it efficiently

If you irrigate or have sprinklers, make sure the system is in good shape (no blocked or broken heads) so there’s no water waste. Try to water after the sun goes down or before it goes up to avoid evaporation. And turn the system off when rain is coming.

There are a million different simple ways to avoid water loss when the next drought occurs. Water is a still a precious commodity!

Don’t miss waterfalls on Mt. Diablo!

Want to know about one of the East Bay’s best-kept secrets? When it rains like it has for the past few weeks, the little trickles on the Clayton side of Mt. Diablo turn into magnificent waterfalls!

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And there’s a 6-7 mile hike loop that takes you past all of them. If you live in the Bay Area, there’s a good chance you enjoy outdoor activities like me. Hiking in the Open Space or up on Mt. Diablo is one of my favorite pastimes, and we are lucky to live in such a beautiful region full of options.

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One of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team members went on the hike last weekend on a sunny day and was blown away by the amount of water that transformed the waterfalls into full-blown spectacles. It’s a can’t-miss this season!

To get to that entrance, get into Clayton on Marsh Creek Rd. or Clayton Rd. and take a right on a residential street called Regency Dr. (just past the middle school). Take that street to the end, and you’ll be at the Regency Gate, which opens up to a few trailheads. The map there will tell you which one is the loop for the falls!

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At the top of the biggest, baddest waterfall they’ve got (not pictured, but now the surprise isn’t ruined!), there’s a pretty cozy little spot off the trail to stop, sit and take in the view. Pack a small picnic and enjoy the beauty Mt. Diablo offers and the spectacle the rainy season has brought. You’ll thank me later!  Happy Trails