Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 22, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page B:1





The Sierra Madre City Council 
held a special City Council meeting 
on Tuesday, June 19th to address 
water customers concerns with 
the mandatory water conservation measures adopted on May 
28, 2013. The major outcome of the meeting was the decision to 
consider an amendment to the Water Conservation Ordinance 
which, once formally adopted, will institute summer and winter 
conservation targets rather than an annual target. The amended 
Water Conservation Ordinance is scheduled for the City Council’s 
July 9, 2013 agenda. 

The Summer and Winter Conservation Targets will each encompass 
6 months (3 billing cycles). Each water customer’s use will be 
averaged for each of these periods to determine the customer’s 
average usage and seasonal conservation target. This will result 
in less variation in the “service target” during rainy months or 
extremely hot months. 

As a part of the amended water conservation ordinance, the Council 
also provided direction to amend the Multi-Unit Residential and 
Commercial Unit Conservation Goals to take into consideration the 
number of units in the complex. The Council is also asked that the 
drafted amendment remove Code Sections 13.24.140(C) and 150 
which calls for the mandatory installation of a flow restrictor for any 
customer who violates the ordinance more than twice; however, the 
financial penalties will remain. The Council also asked staff to return 
to a future meeting with a report regarding implementing gray 
water systems as a condition of new development approvals.

In the meantime, the Council has tasked the City’s soon to 
be established Energy, Environment and Natural Resources 
Commission to provide a recommendation regarding the 
possible future use of flow restrictors. Addressing long term 
conservation measures will be one of the Commission’s 
primary goals over the next year. 

What Comes Next? 

The City Council is scheduled to consider the revised Water 
Conservation Ordinance at the July 9, 2013 City Council 
meeting. If adopted, City staff will re-calculate the seasonal 
conservation targets and mail out revised conservation 
target notices to all water customers. 

Everyone will need to take a pro-active approach to conserve 
water in order to reduce the amount of water used this summer. 
The City is working in conjunction with the San Gabriel Valley 
Municipal Water District on extensive water conservation outreach 
throughout the community. A water supply “thermometer” will be 
placed in Kersting Court and updated weekly to illustrate the current 
underground water levels. Light pole banners encouraging residents 
to “Know Your H2O” and to be “H2O Heroes” will be hung in mid-
July. Coming this summer and early fall, do-it-yourself videos will 
be available and workshops will be held on how to conduct your 
own water audit, the right amount or irrigation, and create your 
own xeriscaping. 

For more information on how you can conserve or on the mandatory 
conservations measures, please visit 

Resident’s reactions to the new restrictions have varied dramatically. Above, Councilman John Capoccia has killed 
their front lawn and will be replacing it with drought tolerant plants. Below left, another resident, for unknown reasons, 
placed his sprinkler in the street at 2:45 pm on the day of the special meeting. Numerous neighbors and passersby 
called city officials because of their concern for what appeared to be the blatant disregard for the city’s diminishing 
water levels. Photos by S. Henderson/MVNews

WATER WISE HABITS By J. Gilroy, Sierra Madre

Adapting a water-saving way of living over time is much easier than one 
might think—because it literally is just a matter of thinking it through. 
Now that the City of Sierra Madre has imposed new limits on all of 
its residents, this new way of thinking has become necessary. There 
are no ifs ands or buts in the new regulations given that the threat of 
water restrictors is looming over us. For those of us who have been 
conservative in our water usage already, some of the tips (such as fill 
a drinking cup when brushing teeth) may seem as though they are for 
amateurs—but don’t mock it—many just haven’t thought about it and 
it’s never to late.

This is what I have developed personally: most of the list is that 
which I have practiced for many years, some of it has come more 
recently. All of it will help to reduce water consumption and for 
those who need to look for aggressive ways to cut (those who have 
been practicing conservative measures already) this is a good start, 
and for those who have not been conservative, this is also a good 

Some of the recommendations are straightforward—other 
recommendations may require a bit more open-mindedness. 
Americans are obsessed with sanitation, and this may cause a lot of 
unnecessary water wastage.


-Keep a large Pyrex measuring cup (I have an 8-cupper on the stove) 
handy…more on this below.

-When boiling or steaming vegetables, do not put salt in your water. 
Not only is it better for you from a health standpoint, but you can 
now use that water for plants—not only does it give them the water 
they need, but it bears a lot of nutrients from the vegetables that 
plants like. Drain the veggies over the Pyrex—it can handle the 
boiling water and can cool just sitting out on the stove, for example.

-When washing dishes by hand, give all the dishes a quick rinse, then 
lather up all the dishes with the water turned off, and finally, pile 
them together for rinsing—this will already partially rinse those 
dishes that are underneath. During WWII in Europe, hand washing 
the dishes was as follows: wash the least soiled dishes first (glasses, 
utensils), then the more soiled dishes next (plates, pots, etc), that 
way, the water used for rinsing the cleaner dishes can now be used 
for washing those more soiled.

-Keep a small basin with water near the sink and when you need just 
a quick rinse of your hands, you can dip them in. Obviously, this is 
not appropriate when dealing with meats—for that, you do need to 
wash hands completely. But if all you need is a quick rinse of the 
hands, then use a small basin instead of running the water each time.

-If you are waiting for the water to warm up, don’t let perfectly good 
water just run down the drain—fill up that Pyrex or basin while 
warming up the water.

-I even reuse my water glass a couple of days in a row—after all, it’s 
just water!


-Ditto on that last one for the kitchen, except that we keep a pretty, 
decorative pitcher in the bathroom: If you are waiting for the water 
to warm up, don’t let perfectly good water just run down the drain—
fill up the decorative pitcher or basin while warming up the water.

-We installed a water restrictor on the showerhead and soap 
up without running the water. Not only was it so very easy and 
inexpensive, but also it saves a huge amount! I should also mention 
that you can actually get through life without having to shower daily. 
Cut back—use baby wipes, wash your face, whatever needs doing, 
but you can get by.

-Flushing the toilet can take up to 27% of water usage in a 
household, so it is important to think up new ways to help with water 
conservation, especially since we do not have a grey-water system 
here in Sierra Madre. If you don’t have a low flow toilet—you might 
want to use the “2Ps to a Pull” (otherwise known as “yellow? let it 
mellow” mantra) method that has been practiced in areas where water 
conservation has been important for years. I recommend putting a 
small amount of bleach and doing a scrub in between a bit more often 
than once weekly if using this practice.

-Perhaps a controversial practice in the US, is one that is encouraged 
in parts of the world where one wouldn’t think water conservation is 
necessary (such as Brazil and Denmark, although other countries where 
water conservation is pivotal also promote this) and that is urination 
in the shower. There are rules, however! Please follow them if you 
use this practice. See this link: for the rules: That said, 
your sweat contains a certain amount of the same substance as urine 
(urea), so what’s the difference? Urine is also considered sterile (unless 
you have an infection), and is even considered helpful for those with 
athlete’s foot or nail fungus….just the same, you might wish to consider 
getting a Daily Shower Spray to put around the bottom of the tub. 

Governments of several countries have even taken to the airwaves 
and television to encourage this practice inasmuch as it saves a flush 
custom&view=article&id=589&.. or
relief-dirty-habit-or-green-and-clean-1.743367 or http://www. ) . 

In the first link, the author writes: Peeing in the shower is no more 
smelly or disgusting than peeing in the toilet. It all goes to the same 
place. The only difference is that the shower flushes it down with water 
that was going to be used anyway, while a toilet flush uses (drinking!) 
water that could have been saved, and that is where you are going to 
save some water and money. (Also, you’re saving on toilet paper, which 
is both expensive and disposable.)

Your water savings will depend on how many people live in your 
home and how much water your toilets use. If you are in Northern 
Europe, there are generally three different types of toilets: 12 liter (3.17 
gallons) flush toilets (oldest), 9 liter (2.37 gallons) flush toilets (older) 
and modern 2-flush toilets (3 liters and 6 liters/ 0.79 gallons and 1.58 
gallons). So if you have a family of 5, using modern toilets, you would 
save 8,200 liters (2,174 gallons) per year if everyone peed in the shower 
once a day (4,5x5x365). If you have older toilets, the savings can be over 
20,000 liters (over 5,283 gallons) a year, but at that point you would 
probably save more money by buying newer toilets.

So it should be considered.


This month I completed my Lawn-Be-Gone Project. Perhaps this 
is something many of us should undertake given how much lawns 
consume in water. I’m not recommending that you have no lawn 
at all—especially if you use it for lounging, playing with the kids, 
the dog….but, if it’s just there to be visual and not getting used, 
why keep it? Why not make it into something that also has pleasing 
visual satisfaction such as flowering drought tolerant plants which 
are a beautiful alternative? Or you could grow some fruit trees 
which will give fruit and shade and keep the cooling benefits that 
the lawn provided. Maybe you already have a good shade tree—why 
not build a front deck or patio where the “former” front lawn was? 
There are many ways to create a living privacy wall and suddenly you 
will have an outdoor room added on to the front of your home. 

I’ve been disappointed to see how many local residents don’t know 
how to water their yards in Southern California. We are not like the 
vast majority of the country which needs to water in the morning—
we should be watering in the evening, when the sun goes down. This 
will help with water retention and allow it to soak in overnight. You 
will use less water since there will be less evaporation occurring. 
Try this and you will see results. So many of the garden books 
are written for the majority of the country which has humidity 
problems—if they watered at night, they would have leaf spot, 
fungus, moss growth and other humidity related problems. We have 
evaporation problems due to low humidity—so switch to watering 
at night and you won’t have that. You will be able to eliminate a day 
of watering and lower the number of watering minutes that way—
greatly reducing your water consumption. If you see that you have 
the problems listed above such as moss growing, that means you are 
watering too much—or if you chose to have moss and it is still green 
and growing, you chose a plant intended for Ireland, and we live in 
the desert. 

-Check your irrigation system before you put it on night watering. 
You want to make sure that you have no leaks, no overspray, and no 
poorly aimed sprinkler heads. If you don’t know how to fix it, get 
help—ask someone who does (go to Arnold’s Hardware—they have 
everything to fix those types of problems and they can explain how 
to do so). Take a picture of what you have/what the problem is and 
find the solution at the hardware store.

I’ve installed all drip irrigation and it allows me to aim very 
precisely at that which needs watering. Talk about reducing water 
consumption—remove the lawn and plant drought tolerant plants 
with precisely aimed drip irrigation! If you see water on the 
sidewalk, the curb or flowing down the street, your water is not 
properly aimed. Concrete does not grow and needs no watering, aim 
the water towards your plants and don’t overwater.

-Reduce the number of potted plants you own—they dry out much 
more quickly than those which live in the ground.

-Mulch mulch mulch. Start with a weed blocker mat which will help 
reduce the number of weeds that can get through (thus eliminating 
the need for toxic weed killers, too). It still allows water in. After 
installing the weed mat, cover with bark mulch (or other mulch) and 
this will further help with water retention for your plantings.


Don’t do it yourself—it uses valuable drinking water. Use the car 
wash—they recycle their water AND it supports a local business!

Letters To The Editor: 


Deanne Davis, Sierra Madre

What shall I do with my water today?

Sprinkle the street in my usual way?

If I ignore this problem, it might just go away,

And I can go on in my usual way!

And maybe, just maybe it will rain today.

What will I do with my water today?

Take a shower that lasts for an hour… or more?

This talk about shortages is just such a bore!

It’s my water! My water! To use in my way!

And maybe, just maybe it will rain today.

They say that the water is going away.

Well, that’s not gonna happen this week, or today.

So I’ll just continue living my life my way!

I’m going to water my lawn, it’s so dry.

And if somebody wants to complain, let ‘em try!

I’m brushing my teeth, and the water is running!

Gallons escaping, right down the drain!

It’s my water! My water! I like brushing that way!

I’m going to use my water… my way!

And maybe, just maybe, it will rain today.

The rain didn’t happen, the mountains are dry.

Our reservoir’s about to pump dust!

We don’t like to make changes, we’re happy our way.

 But maybe, just maybe, we must!

Because it’s not, it’s just not… gonna rain today. 

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