San Luis Obispo Chapter

10 Things You Can Do

California declared a drought emergency, and much of the West is abnormally dry- unfortunately this is not an isolated emergency. This is the new normal. And as critical as water conservation is for the West, it’s just as important everywhere in the US.

Why does Surfrider care about water conservation? Using less water and capturing the water we do have means less polluted water entering our oceans.

Here are 10 simple things you can do, inside and outside your home, to conserve water and protect the oceans, waves and beaches you love:


  1. Take shorter showers.  A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.
  2. Turn off the tap.  When washing your hands, turn off the water while lathering up. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth helps to save over 150 gallons of water a month. Turn off the shower while you wash your hair and you’ll save another 150 gallons a month!
  3. Fill ‘er up. Always run a full load of laundry, but if you can’t, make sure you adjust the settings to the proper load size. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, look into a front-loading model– most are energy and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load. Most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load.
  4. Fix it but don’t forget it.  Leaks can add up to 5 gallons a day! Check for leaks on all your hoses, faucets and connectors– fix ‘em but make sure to keep checking for leaks throughout your house.
  5. There’s no such thing as “waste water”.  When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the water down the drain, water your plants with it instead. While you’re waiting for your water to heat up in the shower or washing your fruit and veggies, collect the water and use it again elsewhere!


  1. Re-route rainwater.  A rain barrel watering system is awesome, but you can also install gutters and downspouts, directing the rainwater to your trees and shrubs. This saves water and reduces runoff.
  2. Use a broom to sweep your driveway and sidewalks.  Hosing down your driveway and sidewalks is wasteful and contributes to poor ocean water quality. Use a broom and dustpan instead.
  3. Follow best lawn practices.  Drought-resistant landscaping is best but if you do have a lawn, let it go dormant in winter. You only have to water every three to four weeks, less if it rains (or snows). When mowing, raise your lawn mower to 1.5 to 2.0 inches. Tall grass shades roots and holds in more moisture than short grass.
  4. Water wisely.  Water plants and grass at night or in the early morning to minimize evaporation. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. Use a kitchen timer or your smart phone timer so you don’t overwater.
  5. Plant an Ocean Friendly Garden.  In many homes, more than half of the water goes to maintain thirsty plants and grass. Plants adapted to your region’s climate and soil require a lot less water and maintenance, and could save you up to half of your household water use! Surfrider has many examples of beautiful, water-conserving gardens!

Want to know more about Surfrider’s work for clean water? Here are more resources: