Surviving SoCal’s unprecedented water restrictions: A simple, no-nonsense guide

A sprinkler sprays water.
Outdoor watering is now limited to one or two days a week in parts of Southern California.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

With unprecedented water restrictions now in place across Southern California, many are questioning how life will change and whether residents can actually conserve.

Here are 10 things to consider as the new restrictions — most notably limiting outdoor watering to one or two days a week — set in.

1. Save the trees

Officials are stressing that even if less watering causes lawns to go brown, it’s essential to maintain trees, which provide shade and help replenish groundwater, among many other benefits.

Water agencies and officials are working to get the message out on the importance of trees and keeping them alive during the drought.

May 24, 2022

2. Grey water is a solution

Grey water is the water from faucets, showers, bathtubs, washing machines — anything that’s not laden with human waste, food or toxic chemicals. It can be used for irrigation of plants.


The water that cleans your clothes isn’t safe to drink, but it could be good for your plants. Here’s how to use grey water amid drought restrictions.

May 4, 2022

3. Dirty cars, unflushed toilets and other household savings

There are a lot of things you can do around the house to save water, from the bathroom to the kitchen to the laundry room and the garage. And that’s just inside.

L.A. Times readers share how they are conserving water in California amid drought restrictions.

May 25, 2022

4. The drought shower is here

Just what is the right length of time for a shower? Is it the national average of eight minutes, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates uses more than a trillion gallons each year? Is it the so-called Navy shower — water on for 30 seconds, lather, rinse for a minute or so?

Water conservation efforts addressing the drought raise the question: Just what is the right length of time for a shower?

May 29, 2022

5. The lawn question

With drought conditions persisting, is it time to just put the green lawn out of its misery? Here’s what many people are doing to save water.


Gardening experts provide tips on lawn removal, drought-tolerant plants and how to keep turf semi-alive during the megadrought.

May 9, 2022

6. Triage for your vegetable garden

We’re going to have to change our ways and give our beloved veggie gardens some tough love in order to get them through the drought. But experts say it’s possible — and vital.

As Southern California’s drought conditions worsen, Los Angeles gardeners can keep their vegetables growing amid water restrictions with these tips.

May 6, 2022

7. Swimming pools survive — for now

For now, there are few restrictions on swimming pools. That does not sit well with some, who feel it sends a mixed message during the drought, but some experts say it makes sense.

While some water agencies are urging the use of pool covers, most stop short of prohibiting the filling of swimming pools.

May 21, 2022

8. This is how much water we need to save

The restrictions have one urgent goal in mind: a 35% reduction in water consumption, equating to an allocation of about 80 gallons per person per day. Currently, the average potable water use across the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s service area — including residential, commercial and industrial water use — amounts to 125 gallons per person per day.

New drought rules in Southern California aim to cut daily water use to 80 gallons per person. Water managers say hitting this number is critical.

April 30, 2022

9. Will there be water cops?

In previous droughts, some agencies had “water cops” looking for wasters. This time, many agencies are again planning to ramp up patrols to ensure that people are complying. They’re also going to keep an eye out for waste, such as water that’s flowing into gutters. The goal is education, but fines are also possible for repeat offenders.

Water suppliers in parts of Southern California were ordered to impose severe water restrictions. Details of the new rules are starting to take shape.

May 5, 2022

10. You might not be covered by the water restrictions. But it’s a good idea to go along.

It all comes down to where communities get their water from. MWD’s water restrictions affect about 6 million people in areas dependent on State Water Project supplies. But Gov. Gavin Newsom has warned of mandatory statewide restrictions if conservation — which has been lagging — does not improve.

Areas that get water from the Colorado River or other sources will be spared from restrictions, at least for now. The strategy has divided experts.

April 29, 2022

Map of areas that depend mostly or entirely on the State Water Project
Shown are the areas that depend mostly or entirely on the State Water Project.
(Metropolitan Water District of Southern California)