W hat’s your favorite water-saving tip? How do you use less water, beyond taking shorter showers, washing only full loads of dishes and laundry, and collecting the cold water that has to flow before you get hot water for hand-washing and tooth-brushing, dishwashing and showering?
Reader Rosalyn McQuade of San Luis Obispo asked me to ask you.
She wrote, “I have been a reader of your column for years. I have an idea that I think would be helpful for all of your readers.
“As Cambrian residents, you folks have a head start on various ingenious methods for conserving water. I remember you wrote about scraping food off dishes with paper towels instead of rinsing them” before putting them into the dishwasher.
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“Now, with the newly announced statewide water measures, it would be helpful for us to hear/learn from the Cambrian folks how they have managed this reduction of water for the last year.
“Perhaps you could ask for suggestions and then pass them on to the rest of us on the Central Coast.”
Rosalyn concluded, “I know that I would benefit.”
So, in the spirit of community that pulled us together to cut Cambrians’ water use by a whopping 40 percent in 2014 (compared with 2013 levels, according to services district stats), Rosalyn and I are asking you to share your favorite, even quirky, water-saving tips.
Just email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll take it from there.
Sharing and helping each other is what we do here.
When things are good, sure we bicker and spat over this and that, issues that seem crucial at the time, and some of them probably are.
Then real crisis hits, whether it’s fire or quake, drought or flood, lean times, life-threatening illness or even a common desire with a deadline, such as raising money for a new library or buying land that’s now the community-owned, protected Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.
Common causes, collective catastrophes, helping people who need it or responding to a threat to the North Coast way of life … we put down our philosophical pitchforks and dig in together as a community.
Because that’s what we are. A community. In the greatest, most uplifting sense of the word.
We proved that again last year, by hauling water in buckets, tubs or tanks lashed to our vehicles ... and then sharing the liquid in the latter with neighbors and friends who couldn’t go to Clyde Warren’s ranch well to get nonpotable water for themselves.
We proved it by driving around in grubby cars — I gave my boss a lift in my dusty, tree-and-bird-specked Toyota the other day, and explained that driving a dirty car is a symbol of patriotism in Cambria these days.
We let some plants die while fighting to save prized ones, then replacing dead landscaping with native plants or succulents that don’t require as much water.
But there are dozens of other handy hints out there. I know there are, because I know North Coasters and how inspired, innovative and inventive they can be. It’s a town filled with sprightly, brightly creative folks who, when faced with a problem, will gnaw on it until they find an answer, no matter how … unusual … that solution may be.
At a public meeting during a previous drought in the 1970s, I remember hearing hoots of laughter after someone suggested that Cambria’s water district should drag in some icebergs from Alaska. Now, four decades later, iceberg hauling’s still being pursued in other areas.
Now, some people are suggesting other grand schemes — transporting blizzard snow by rail car, for instance, or building a pipeline to transport Seattle’s extra rainfall.
Hoot and holler if you will, but those ideas may not sound as outlandish later if this drought continues.
Truly inspired solutions — even little ones — often spring out of brainstorming about a bunch of ideas that sounded foolish in the beginning.
For instance, on days I don’t shower, I take a thorough sponge bath and wash my hair … alongside and in our laundry-room sink, respectively. It sounds loony, but it works well for 5-foot-1-inch-tall me because the sink is the right height, there’s a pull-down faucet with a large-headed, push-button sprayer (yes, with a flow reducer on it), and if I drip, I’m over easy-to-mop-up porcelain tile.
We have to start somewhere. Why not with you? Share your ideas. We promise not to laugh. Because somewhere in all those concepts could be the gems that will help all of us get through this drought more easily, more efficiently.
Together. Because we’re a community.