Ask GreenTown: The Data Is Flowing!
Question: I am looking to lower my water usage and was curious what the average water bill is in Los Altos Hills?
Answer: Here’s some historical data from Los Altos Hills that can help put average bills in perspective.
The average water bills for various communities, including the service area of Purissima Hills Water District, can be found on this chart from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA).
Cost and Gallons Per Day
The average monthly water bill for single family households for 2012-13 (most recent data available) was $171.46. Rate structures are tiered so the first units of usage are charged at a lower rate than the successive units with the specifics depending on whether you’re in PHWD or Cal Water service territory.
The 2012 PHWD rate study notes, on average, residential households consumed 332 CCFs of water in 2010-11, (1 CCF = 748 gallons). That’s 28 CCFs per month, in a 30 day month, about 698 gallons per household per day. These numbers are sometimes reported on a per capita basis.
This number is a bit different than the 35.1 CCFs that BAWSCA reports as average monthly consumption for single-family homes in PHWD service area in 2012-13, which is closer to 875 gallons per household per day.
70% of Usage in Our Area? Irrigation
In general, around 70% of domestic water usage in Los Altos Hills is for irrigating lawns and landscaping, so the best approach for reducing water use is to convert to drought-tolerant and/or native landscaping. You do need to water the plants to get them established, however, once established they are good to go.
Many places can help with native/drought-tolerant landscaping. Added incentive? The Santa Clara Valley Water District has doubled its rebates through Dec. 2014 offering $2 per square foot for landscape conversions, known in some circles as “cash for grass.” You need to have a pre-inspection before starting any work. If a landscape conversion is not possible at this point, then you can start by watering less. Irrigation can be set to 1 day or none per week. With the “Brown is the New Green” mentality taking hold, coupled with an ordinance prohibiting watering more than 2 days per week during the drought, it just makes sense.
Other simple ways to save? By installing a laundry-to-landscape greywater system, where your laundry waste water (if you use appropriate detergents) can be used to irrigate certain plants. GreenTown offers workshops on these, send us an email to receive notice for our next event.
A Free Water Wise House Call Can Get You Started
Another option, to get you started on various water conservation measures is to schedule a Water Wise House Call, which the Water District does for free. It is an indoor/outdoor audit of energy usage that helps you figure out if you have any leaks, what your irrigation scheduling should be, if you need aerators on your valves, a new shower head or more efficient toilets, etc.
Overall, it shows you how to be smarter during the drought. And that’s a win for everyone.