Thank you, Dolores!
The results are in: the water company guy read the meter. For May and June, we achieved 57% savings over 2013.
And still flowers!
I wonder if our for-profit water company executives are up late at night wondering if customers realize they don't need so much ridiculously expensive water.
Savings outdoors: measuring each irrigation zone and focusing on the five highest. For those five highest, the drip system was improved to cut water use by 75-90%. Finding and repairing invisible leaks. Significant savings. For one area of tall screening plants--trees, really--grey water from the washing machine and much less from the irrigation system. I got a type of detergent recommended for grey water (no sodium content). The plants look happy. Less runs of the irrigation system and more careful spot-watering of threatened plants.
Savings indoors: "navy" showers, mostly. Less hand washing of dishes. We've kept a bucket in the shower to collect warm-up water for a long time--it isn't much per day--a gallon and a half at most, but that keeps the plants on the balcony better watered. More benefit for the plants than anything else.
Visible but insignificant:
I tried saving kitchen sink water, but there wasn't that much--easier to rinse rice, fruit, and veggies out in the garden.
A good illustration of perception vs. reality. Collecting a gallon of water in a bucket in the shower every day seems virtuous, but digging around (and digging and digging) to fix several hidden 50-gallon-an-irrigation-cycle leak has far more impact.
Invisible but significant:
Shortening a 20 minute shower to one minute is significant. Washing machine water to flush rather than clean water--probably more trouble than it is worth, but it does reduce water use a bit. It's more of a "ha ha!" salute to the water company.
'Wildfire' blooms on.
The dishwasher uses a surprisingly small amount of water per load--around seven gallons--the amounts were in the user's manual all along. Now I know. The washing machine was different--it claims to use less water for a small load, but the difference isn't that much. I know this by collecting the water into a barrel. Now I know--we don't do many small loads, but now I do less.
Here along the wall, the roses are not so happy:
Most of the garden looks decent. The area out front along the east facing slope, a row of roses, doesn't. I believe there are avocado roots there from the tree above. Perhaps replacing the roses with agaves, which would extend the Agaves from along the driveway out there--would be interesting as a design. There are a few good roses there, but some duds. Flower production from roses generally has dropped at least 57%.
Water = new growth:
After I'd gotten all the savings worked out--a surprise. Tropical Storm Dolores met up with a low pressure system. Yesterday, a miracle: it rained. Today, an even bigger miracle: it poured. In the immortal words of Rainbow Dash, ohmygoshomygoshomygoshohmyGOSH!
We've not gotten a period of rain like that since 2005. Then suddenly we get it in July!
The downpour was so heavy I was worried the koi pond would overflow. I filled every available container with rain water.
We got probably at least an inch and a half. Huge.
I walked out and I could hear every plant in the garden going: "Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhsommmme!!!!!!!!!"
Time to pull the cars out and wash them off with free water:
The hummingbirds vanished during the heaviest downpour, to reemerge at the feeder after the rain eased, wet and ready to fight. Note birds with wet heads.
Thank you thank you thank you Dolores!