Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

Rocks line a ridge as a snowboarder makes his way down a run below Squaw Peak near the Siberia chairlift at Squaw Valley Resort last month in Olympic Valley. The Sierra Nevada mountain range’s most recent snow survey suggests that widespread water restrictions may be imposed this year.

Be water smart during dry winter

Published: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 - 12:00 am

It’s official: We’re headed into another dry year.

The recent Sierra snow survey confirmed what local water officials feared: Snow levels are way below normal – just 20 percent of average for early January.

That report follows the driest year in recorded history.

In 2013, Sacramento received 6.13 inches of rain, less than one-third of normal precipitation.

Several Northern California water agencies already have called for customers to reduce their water consumption.

The Regional Water Authority (RWA), which represents more than 20 local water providers, urges customers to do their part to reduce water use before it becomes mandatory.

Here are some tips for wise water use during the winter season:

• Limit landscape watering to only once a week or not at all, following your water provider’s guidelines.

Plants typically don’t need as much water this time of year. Lower temperatures, shorter daylight hours and moisture from fog (and hopefully rain) all combine to reduce the water demands of a typical landscape. If you have the type of lawn that is dormant during the winter, most likely it does not need any supplemental water.

• Reduce water use inside by washing only full loads of clothes.

In addition, turn off the water while cleaning dishes, brushing teeth or shaving.

• Fix those leaks. In particular, repair leaky toilets and faucets. One leaky faucet can waste more than 1,000 gallons a year.

• Make longer-term investments in water efficiency by replacing older toilets, clothes washers, dishwashers and aerators with high-efficiency models.

Consider upgrading water-wasting sprinklers and irrigation equipment. Many water providers offer rebates to help offset costs.

• Be a smart water saver. Visit BeWaterSmart.info or call (888) WTR-TIPS (987-8477) for more information and ideas.

– Debbie Arrington

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