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Water Conservation Tips

Photo of drought tolerant landscaping

California suffers from cyclical droughts and while San Diego is not currently in a drought it may be sooner than later.  City and state year-round permanent mandatory restrictions have been put in place to help San Diegans make conservation a way of life. Still, many residents are asking how they can do more, above and beyond the permanent mandatory restrictions. This page contains simple tips to help you save water.

Check for Leaks


  • Set lawn mower blades one notch higher since longer grass reduces evaporation. Leave grass clippings on your grass, this cools the ground and holds in moisture.
  • Mulch, compost and wood chips are reliable, cost-effective products for water retention, erosion control and weed suppression. They're available at the City's Miramar Greenery.
  • Don't allow children to play with the hose or have water fights. Instead, visit one of the City's public pools or one of our many beaches.
  • If you have a pool, use a cover to cut down evaporation. This will also keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals.
  • Plant drought-tolerant landscaping. You can get great ideas at the Water Conservation Garden.


  • When doing the laundry, never wash less than a full load.
  • Remove clothes from the washer promptly, to avoid having to rinse or wash them a second time.
  • If possible, invest in a high-efficiency washer.

Image of 5 minutes clock

In the Bathroom

  • While waiting for hot water to come through the pipes, catch the cool, clean, water in a bucket or a watering can. You can use it later to water plants, run your garbage disposer or pour it into the toilet bowl to flush.
  • Replace your regular showerheads with low-flow showerheads.
  • Keep your showers down to five minutes or less using a low-flow showerhead.
  • Turn the water off while lathering up in the shower. Then turn the water back on to quickly rinse.
  • Take shallow baths with no more than 3 inches of water.
  • Replace your older model toilets with new ultra-low-flush models.
  • Check your toilets for leaks. Drop a dye tablet or a teaspoon of food coloring (avoid red) in the tank. If color appears in the bowl after 15 minutes, you probably need to replace the "flapper" valve.
  • Flush the toilet only when necessary. Never use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket.
  • Never let the water run from the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.

Photo of loaded dishwasher

In the Kitchen

  • Hand wash dishes just once a day using the least amount of detergent possible and a dishpan instead of running water. Use a sprayer or short blasts of water to rinse.
  • If you have a dishwasher, run it only when you have a full load.
  • Scrape food scraps off dishes into the garbage can, or rinse them off with very short blasts of water.
  • Never use hot, running water to defrost frozen foods. Plan ahead and place frozen items in the refrigerator overnight or use the microwave oven.
  • Rinse vegetables and fruits in a sink or a pan filled with water instead of under running water.