Nevada City has recently initiated its WaterWise program to help residents save money on their water bills by using water more efficiently. As part of the public launch of the program, WaterWise will be holding a free public workshop on water efficiency titled, “Save Water, Save Money: How to be Water Wise in your Home and Garden.” Many local home and gardening experts will be speaking at the event, and there will be a raffle of a Dual-flush toilet donated by Sierra Plumbing Supply, an irrigation “smart-controller’ donated by Weiss Landscaping, and a gift basket donated by Rare Earth Landscape Materials. In addition to these raffle items, Nevada City will be giving away one of the latest designs in low-flow showerheads. Although the raffle items and give-aways are only available to Nevada City water utility customers, the program itself is open to the general public, and everyone is invited to attend. Light refreshments will be available. The program happens Saturday, March 17th, from 10am to 1pm, at Seaman’s Lodge, in Pioneer Park.
Save Water, Save Money: How to be Water Wise in your Home and Garden
Speakers and topics:
Zeno Acton with Acton Arboriculture – The steps and value of an irrigation audit.
Adam Weiss/Brian Coalson with Weiss Landscaping – Landscape maintenance strategies, irrigation improvements and adjustments that conserve
Karin Kaufman, Landscape Architect: Reducing or removing lawn, and what to put in its place
John Whalin, from Sierra Plumbing Supply: Water efficient fixtures inside the home
Lyn Muth, Master Gardener at A to Z nursery: Using water wise plants in the landscape
Paul Racko, Sierra Permaculture Design: harvesting and reusing water in the landscape with swales, ponds & greywater
Following new state guidelines which mandate all California water suppliers to use metered billing and to reduce per capita water use, Nevada City installed new water meters and switched to metered billing in 2011. As often happens when switching to metered billing, many residents’ water bill increased dramatically. The Nevada City council initiated the WaterWise program to help residents bring those bills back down and under control. The program also aims to guide residents towards the state mandated goal of 20% lower water use by the year 2020. WaterWise may also help the city during the peak use summer months when it has to buy additional water from NID, as well as stave off spending millions of dollars on infrastructure and water treatment plant renovations.
Many area residents have wondered at the reasoning behind a water efficiency program when Nevada City is located so close to the headwaters of a large watershed and water seems so abundant. The bigger picture behind the need for water conservation is that California has a serious water problem. There has been a warming trend in California for decades which is predicted to continue. This warming trend is not only melting away millennia-old glaciers in the Sierra, it’s causing earlier snow melt and run-off, and faster evaporation rates. Faster evaporation rates mean more water is required to irrigate crops and landscape. Compounding this problem is the fact that California is expected to continue growing in population by many millions in the coming years. Much of this population growth is expected to happen in areas that are already experiencing severe water shortages and already rely on reclaimed water for irrigation. In simple terms all of this means that California’s water supply is decreasing at the very same time that its water demand is growing. Facing a serious failure of the water supply system in the not too distant future, California instituted Senate Bill SB7.7 in 2009, which calls for more efficient water use by all Californians, with a reduction of 10% by 2015, and 20% by 2020. Thankfully there are many new technologies and practices available to the public to help them reduce water use without sacrificing comfort or utility. Some of the new low-flow fixtures not only use less water, they actually perform better than previous higher flow models. For instance, the new generation of high efficiency sprinkler heads use up to 30% less water, while simultaneously providing better soil infiltration than previous designs. The goal of the WaterWise program is to inform residents about newly emerging water-saving technologies while also promoting practical and time-tested water wise practices, such as adding mulch to the garden, and shutting off the faucet while brushing our teeth.