Remarkably, Newport Beach's water use between 2007 and 2013 was reduced an admirable 29% from 257 gallons per day per person to 190 gallons per day.
Still, our distressing drought continues, and there is only a glimmer of hope that a possible El Niño event this winter will give us relief.
Surely we can't count on it.
So our already-admirable water conservation efforts need to continue and even improve in the face of a new directive from the State Water Resources Control Board to do more.
Our state leaders are considering a fall bond measure that would, in part, fund what I view as our highest statewide water priority: the creation of new storage to capture precious runoff that simply goes to the sea.
Meanwhile, conservation is our best course of action to maintain an adequate supply of water to serve the residential and commercial needs of our community.
As a reminder, Newport Beach residents get 70% of their water from the groundwater basin underneath Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley. The remaining 30% is imported and includes Colorado River water.
Until California experiences new storms and increasing snow pack — and makes new efforts to capture and store more water for future drought conditions — here are a few great things we all can do to help conserve:
1.) Spend time with your sprinkler system. Watch it in action every month or so and see where it needs tuning up (less time here, a little tightening of a sprayer head there, fixing a broken nozzle). It's pretty easy to do on your own, but you can also seek the help of a gardener. Try to be the home that doesn't let any water leave your property.
2.) Investigate some high-tech sprinkler improvements, such as "smart" timers and high-efficiency "rotor" nozzles. The latter can use 30% less water.
3.) Move to a time-tested watering schedule. One is on http://www.watersmartnewport.org — a great site for many conservation-related tips and programs.
4.) Water early in the morning — not midday or late afternoon.
5.) Mulch more to keep more moisture in your soil.
6.) Consider less turf — it means less mowing too. Our city government is reducing grass in medians and some parks. Bonita Creek Park will soon have an artificial field, which will save water and make the field more usable.
7.) Check out California-friendly landscaping that requires less water. Rogers Gardens has great information and displays.
8.) Using a car wash is still the best way to get a car cleaned. Car wash water is usually recycled. If you must wash the car at home, use a hose with a shut-off nozzle, and try to keep the water on your property.
9.) Inside the home, shorter showers help, but so too does fixing leaking fixtures. (Here's a tip: Place a bit of food dye in your toilet tank to see if it leaks. If you see dye without a flush, something's leaking.) Try to capture the water that's wasted as you wait for the hot water to reach the tap — using that for your plants or lawn.
These efforts will make an important contribution toward keeping our water supplies strong, even as demand for water grows.
The improvements made in recent years are great foundations for us. Let's work for more.
LESLIE DAIGLE is the District 4 councilwoman in Newport Beach and a candidate for Orange County Water District Division 5.