Battling the California Drought with Conservation Tech

Battling the California Drought with Conservation Tech

Droughts are never desirable, especially in residential areas. Nevertheless, a lack of water can present a wealth of learning opportunities for builders.

In this case, look no further than California. With its persistent sun, the state serves as the leader of the solar industry but wavers when it comes to rainfall. As a result, California has faced its worst drought period in recent years; to such an extent that even the governor proposed budget plans, back in May, for drought resiliency … to the tune of $334.5 million.

With that said, builders and homeowners alike should be doing their part to save water as well.

RELATED: New Smart Water Device Marketed Towards Conservation

Consider These Statistics: 

  • The standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, according to the EPA.
  • Waiting one minute each day for hot water wastes more than 900 gallons every single year.
  • If all 18.5M residents in the greater Los Angeles area wait for water, it represents nearly 17 trillion gallons of water down the drain every year.

Thus, it is evident that homeowners play a role in wasted water. But builders can help prevent this through water conservation technology that is slowly becoming standard in more homes around the country.

Codes, Cost and Conservation

How hot water recirculation works.
How hot water recirculation works.

Codes are already beginning to influence how builders operate in the smart water market. Tom Kelly, a hot water heating expert from Bosch, points to precedents already being set by California such as its Title 24 building code.

“The code of the fixture will dictate everything upstream for that unit … no pun intended,” says Kelly. 

Kelly believes that, for those in the building industry, water conservation feels far more standard than it actually is. Fortunately, due to problems such as the California drought and similar issues in other parts of the west coast, water conservation is certainly on the minds of people who live there.

Unfortunately, however, the same cannot be said for other states where water isn’t facing such a restrictive demand. Ultimately, states Kelly, the driving factor for water conservation will be cost savings.

“People are charged twice for water in a lot of municipalities—not just to draw the water, but on your sewer bill as well. I think this is what will ultimately push most people towards better conservation measures,” says Kelly.

Kelly points to technology, such as a hot water recirculation system, as the best way to battle elements such as the drought and conserve water in general.

Bosch’s system consists of a small pumps attached to the plumbing near the hot water heater, which will make hot water quickly available—at times, even instant. These types of pumps can save homeowners thousands of gallons a year and are relatively inexpensive for the builder to install.

A Real Life Example

Spring Mountain Ranch uses point-to-point irrigation systems.
Spring Mountain Ranch uses point-to-point irrigation systems.

Many professionals in California have already begun taking their state’s drought measures to task.

Take, for example, Spring Mountain Ranch in Riverside, California. This master planned community—a joint effort of the development team and local municipalities including iStar, KB Home, Riverside Highland, County of Riverside, CSA 126 and Sitescapes—uses a plethora of energy and water conservation methods.

The community includes water-saving features such as WaterSense labeled faucets, toilets and showerheads, as well as dishwashers that utilize significantly less water than standard models.

The community’s most important element of water conservation exists in its integrated irrigation systems. With central control and an onsite weather station, all irrigation controllers can be linked to a singular platform that allows them to be monitored and managed with ease. The weather station uses real-time tactics to update the irrigation for to-the-minute adjustments and also features shutdown measures if a leak or break were to occur.

The community’s point-to-point irrigation systems deliver water directly to the roots of plants, using 24 percent less water than a conventional overhead spray system.

Through these combined methods, Spring Mountain Ranch can save over 1.5 million gallons of water a year.

5 Top Techniques to Conserve Water

Builders, on west and east coast alike, need to implement these top five practices in order to conserve water through technology.

  1. Adhere to codes, and this will often require water conservation technology to achieve.
  2. Install water recirculation systems and tankless hot water heaters. This will conserve the time people wait for hot water.
  3. Install water-conserving fixtures and appliances, such as faucets, toilets, showerheads and dishwashers.
  4. Use control systems and weather detection to utilize irrigation only when it is needed.
  5. Use point-to-point irrigation systems to deliver water directly to the roots of plants, avoiding waste.

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About The Author

Greg Vellante is a staff writer and multimedia specialist at TecHome Builder, as well as a content coordinator for AE Ventures events. He has over a decade of experience writing for various publications on topics that range from cinema to editorials to home technology. His favorite technologies fall into the A/V and home entertainment realm, and he’s keeping a close eye on the rising trends in robotics and virtual/augmented reality. Greg resides in Boston, holds a degree in Media Studies from Emerson College and pursues screenwriting/filmmaking in his free time.

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