Water Saving Tips

You can help with our water supply questions by limiting your demand for water.  Please watch this video for some information on the current drought.


Check out these great resources for water saving ideas:

Outdoor Water Use - Water Wise Landscapes

Use Your Greywater

Consider supplementing your irrigation with a rainwater catchment system or greywater. Greywater (also spelled graywater) is untreated water that drains from your clothes washer, bathtub, shower, or bathroom sink. Greywater has low levels of contaminants, but when handled properly, it can be used for nonpotable purposes such as landscape irrigation. More information regarding greywater use can be found here.

Water Conservation - It's a Way of Life for Our Residents

Mulching retains water

Apply 2 - 3 inches of mulch in your garden. Not only will it help prevent weeds but it will retain moisture in the soil.

Water - Use it Wisely Website

Water at the right time

Current drought restrictions require that you water before 10:00am or after 5pm to reduce evaporation. Drip irrigation systems, soaker hoses and watering cans may be used any time of day. Also avoid watering during windy conditions.

Water Smart Gardening in Santa Cruz Website

Adjust your irrigation timer

Adjust your watering schedule with the weather and season. Cut your watering times in half during the fall and turn your timer off in the winter and when it rains. If you don't know how to operate your irrigation timer, look for the manual online or manually turn on irrigation valves rather than relying on an automatic timer.

City of Santa Cruz Drought Page

Adjust your lawn mower

If you mow grasses higher, at 3 or 4 inches, it will reduce water loss and promote healthy roots.

Find and fix all leaks

Check your toilets for leaks periodically. Toilets are the most common source for leaks and these leaks often go undetected. If you rent, report any leaks to your landlord. Current drought restrictions require that a reasonable effort must be made to repair, or make arrangements for fixing, a plumbing leak, whether indoors or outdoors, within 24 hours of finding it or being notified of a leak.

Water efficiently

Don't assume your plants need water. Check the soil moisture first using a soil probe or screw driver. Make sure sprinklers are pointed at the plants and water is not running to waste. Use water-efficient irrigation such as drip systems, soaker hoses, or low volume sprinklers such as MP rotators. And be sure to check your sprinkler system for leaks and breaks regularly.

Water efficient cleaning

Run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads only. For any smaller loads of laundry, be sure to adjust the water level to match the size of the laundry load.

Remove Your Lawn

Remove lawn that is not serving a functional purpose and obtain a rebate. Replace your lawn with water-conserving plants which only need periodic watering when established. Before removing ANY lawn, call the Water Conservation Office at 831-420-5230 to set up a pre-approval site visit. They will verify your project meets the rebate requirements, take a measurement, and a photo. Lawn that has already been removed is NOT eligible for a rebate.

Don't leave the water running

Turn on the water only when it is needed when brushing your teeth, washing your hands, soaping up in the shower, or doing the dishes.

Water Conservation Coalition of Santa Cruz County

Take shorter showers

An average shower uses about 5 gallons of water per minute. If you shorten your shower by 2 minutes, you can cut your water use by 10 gallons. Shower timers are available in the Water Conservation office 212 Locust Street.

Don't use the toilet as a trashcan

In addition to saving water, medications or personal care products such as pills, liquids, or creams, should not be flushed down the toilet or placed in the trash where they contaminate our water supply and are accessible to children or animals.

Use water-saving devices

Did you know that 15% of an average household's daily water consumption is through bathroom and kitchen faucets? The Water Conservation office at 212 Locust Street will provide you with free water-saving devices such as low-flow showerheads, shower shut-off valves, and faucet aerators.

Install a Watersense Ultra High Efficiency toilet

Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home's indoor water consumption. Older, inefficient toilets can use as much as 6 gallons per flush and are a major source of wasted water in many homes. A Watersense Ultra High Efficiency toilet will use 1 gallon or less per flush. The Water Conservation office will offer a $150 rebate to SCMU customers who install a Watersense Ultra High Efficiency toilet.

Buy a high efficiency washing machine

A typical household of four does about 400 loads of laundry each year. Older conventional clothes washers use 40 to 50 gallons for each full load. That adds up to 16,000 gallon of water a year, or more, just for clothes washing!

The City of Santa Cruz offers a $100 rebate when you purchase an Energy Star ® labeled clothes washer. Energy Star washers use only around 15 gallons per load and about half the total gas and electric energy compared to a standard clothes washer. By choosing an Energy Star clothes washer, you will be saving thousands of gallons of water every year and benefit by lower energy and water bills.

Turn off the water when not in use

Current drought restrictions require that all hoses be equipped with a shut-off nozzle. The Water Conservation office at 212 Locust Street will provide you with free shut-off nozzles.


Use a broom, not a hose to clean driveways, patios, and sidewalks. During the current drought restrictions, customers may not wash down sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, patios, or other paved surfaces, except to alleviate immediate safety or sanitation hazards or to prepare paved surfaces for sealing.

Use your shower water

Collect shower water with a bucket while waiting for it to heat up and use it to water your plants.

For more information regarding current drought restrictions, visit the Water Department website or call (831) 420-5220.