Like much of Southern California, San Diego wrestles with unflagging drought conditions, but some years are worse than others. In 2009, the city declared a drought emergency and made plans to slash consumption by 8 percent. Now, in 2010, the numbers reveal that San Diego managed to surpass its goal by 3 percent. More importantly, though, the city does not plan to stop there. The water restrictions put in place last year will remain standing, and the conservation venture will continue indefinitely.
But, as Jaymi Heimbuch points out on Treehugger, San Diego's conservation rates could skyrocket further if the city were to step back and rethink its technique. Rather than focusing on water used for showering or dishwashing, policy-makers should pay more attention to water used for landscaping, business, and agricultural purposes:
While shorter showers and water-savvy dish-washing methods are helpful, that's not where the real water waste happens. Around 30% of a household's water use goes to landscaping. Wasteful household water use mainly revolves around lawns. Next on the list of things that boost a water footprint are habits like taking baths and hanging on to toilets with too-big tanks.
But looking at the bigger picture, it isn't necessarily even households that should get the focus, but rather businesses such as agriculture and manufacturing. Farms use 70-80% of the water in the United States. If San Diego really wants to curb its water use, it should shift from scolding Joe Plumber to requiring businesses to account for and report water use, then start trimming the fat. A recent estimate showed that state-wide water conservation among California businesses would save enough water to supply San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.\n
How do you think California can reassess its water conservation strategy?