Water Conservation
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WaterSmart REBATE$ are Flowing!!!
Rebates for WaterSmart devices continue to flow!! Residents are eligible for the following rebates:
  • up to $380 per controller for residential Smart Weather Based Irrigation Controllers! Go here to sign up.
  • $30/active valve for commercial (e.g. HOA's & businesses) Smart Weather Based Irrigation Controllers! Go here to sign up.
  • $4/nozzle for high efficiency rotating nozzles! Go here to sign up.
  • $2/sq.ft. of turf removed for SC residents and businesses. Go here to sign up.
  • $85 for high efficiency clothes washers (must have a water factor of 4 or less) Go here to sign up.
  • Additional rebates are available for other water-saving devices for commercial properties & businesses.

    Click the link below for more information and to apply on-line:

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    Rain Barrels - How To Guide
    The students at Concordia Elementary School have perhaps the most colorful and efficient watering system in San Clemente: rain barrels! These barrels collect rain from the building's rain gutter downspouts and uses the water for their California Frienldy & Native Plant Butterfly Gardens.

    Just a quarter inch of rain can provide over 450 gallons if collected on a roof with an area of 3,000 square feet! Nothing beats free water..... except for saving free water for use in the dry summer!

  • for a $75.00 rebate on a rain barrel of 55 gallons or more visit socalwatersmart.com
  • The San Clemente Garden Club has put together a simple flyer to help you get on your way to collecting free rain. Click the link below to view the flyer:

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    WaterSmart San Clemente!

    San Clemente has been WaterSmart for many years, and we will continue to be so. The cheapest drop of water is the water saved for tomorrow.

    You can save a lot of water and money by using these WaterSmart tips, especially the watering guide on the 2nd page!

    Explore this page for WaterSmart information & rebates. Visit these websites for additional information:
    www.saveourh2o.org | EPA WaterSense

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    WaterSmartSC Tips
    It is incredibily easy to save 20 gallons of water a day - you just need to know how! Use water savings tips like those above and others to do more with less!

    Here are a sample of water smart tips:

  • Shortening your showers will save 2.5 gallons per minute.
  • Fixing a leaky toilet can save from 30-100+ gallons per day.
  • Replacing older, high-volume toilets with High Efficiency Toilets (HETs) can save 1.9-3.8 gallons per flush. That equates to approximately 8,000 gallons a year.
  • Watering before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m. can save 20-25 gallons per day.
  • Don't overwater - Reducing each irrigation cycle by 1-3 minutes can save 15-25 gallons per minute.
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor surfaces can save 8-18 gallons per minute.
  • More information on WaterSmartSC Tips

    WaterSmart Plant List!
    Tired of paying so much to keep your landscape green? We've selected brilliant WaterSmart plants for you to consider using in your landscape to replace plants that have a drinking problem (looking at you grass!). These WaterSmart plants will save you time (less maintenance) and money (water & fertilizer) and keep you and your landscape "green".

    Take a look around your home and prioritize non-recreational areas of grass to convert over with WaterSmart plants and mulch. What is non-recreational grass? If the only time you step onto an area of grass is when you mow, weed, or fertilize it, consider that a prime candidate!

    The City has put together a helpful WaterSmart Plant List so click this link and begin your landscape makeover!.


    Water Conservation Ordinance & Year-Round Water Waste Restrictions
    The City's water conservation ordinance contains year-round water waste restriction designed to help San Clemente stretch its water supply further. Several notable water waste restrictions include:

  • Plumbing and irrigation leaks must be fixed within 72 hours
  • Outdoor watering is prohibited between 9am and 6pm. Watering during these hours is permitted, however, if done by hand using a hose with a automatic shutoff nozzle, if by drip irrigation, or if controlled by a weather-based or sensor-based irrigation controller.
  • Overspray and runoff is to minimized.
  • Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shutoff nozzle to wash vehicles and all wash water must be prevented from entering the stormdrain.
  • Washing impervious surfaces with a hose is prohibited unless it is equipped with an automatic shutoff nozzle and wash water must be prevented from entering the stormdrain.
  • Food and beverage service facilities shall not serve water to customers except up on request of the customer.
  • To read the full text of the Water Conservation Ordinance, click the link below.

    More information on Water Conservation Ordinance & Year-Round Water Waste Restrictions

    Casa Romantica Drought Tolerant Gardens!
    The Casa Romantica's Gardens offer amazing views, smells, and WaterSmart ideas! There are CA natives to look at, a butterfly garden, and some amazing succulents! Better still, many of the plants are labeled so you can figure out what to plant at home.

    Use their interpretive brochure to help guide you around the gardens as you make your way from the Butterly Garden, past the Native American Garden, out to the Coastal Bluff, through the Palm/Succulent Garden, and out to the Native Bowl, pictured below!

    You can even sign up for a tour or as a garden volunteer.

    More information on Casa Romantica Drought Tolerant Gardens!

    Story of Bottled Water
    Click the link below to watch a thought-provoking (and a behavior-changing!) video documenting the history of bottled water with insight into the environmental damage caused by the recent demand for water wrapped in plastic!

    Being WaterSmart is taking tap water on the go with you in a sustainable bottle!

    More information on Story of Bottled Water

    “Orange County Kids Becoming Water-Saving SuperHeroes!”
    Municipal Water District of Orange County & Orange County Water District

    • Parents - Sign up your Kids to become an O.C. Water Hero!
    • FREE prizes for saving water!
    • Kids - Get your parents to join and YOU become an OC Water SUPERHERO!
    • Sign up using the link below!
    More information on “Orange County Kids Becoming Water-Saving SuperHeroes!”

    Where Does Our Water Come From?
    The majority (~90%) of our drinking water is imported from the Colorado River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta via the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. This supply source is becoming increasingly strained and beginning July 1, 2009, water deliveries will be cut which is why San Clemente faces mandatory conservation.

    Ground water extracted from City wells comprise about eight percent of the total water source. The City is able to generate 2.2 million gallons of recycled water every day for irrigation use. The City’s Municipal golf course and the Pacific golf course are the major recipients of the reclaimed water.

    Click the link below to see a detailed image of California's water infrastructure which brings water to San Clemente.

    More information on Where Does Our Water Come From?

    My Water Use Went Up, What Can I Do?
    The most common sources of increased water consumption are toilet leaks and changes in irrigation system programming (and/or leaks in your irrigation system!). A leaky toilet can consume 30-100+ gallons of water a day!

    You may also want to take a look at your water meter to see if the meter indicates you have a leak. See the next section for tips on how to read your meter. Also read through the 20 Gallon Tipsheet section above!

    Please contact savewater@san-clemente.org or call 949 361-8354 for more information and help.

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    How Do I Read My Water Meter & Check For Leaks?
    The only way to use water efficiently is to know how much you use. The best tool to measure water use is your water meter! The City reads your meter every month to calculate your water and sewer bill. You can read your meter to make sure meter reads are accurate. Click on the link below to learn how to read your meter.

    If you think that you may have a leak the first place you should go to is your water meter. In addition to measuring your water use, every water meter is equiped with a leak detection dial (in the shape of a triangle, star or similar shape)that spins if any water at all passes through the meter. You may contact the water conservation specialist at SaveWater@San-Clemente.org or (949)361-8354 for a free leak assessment or you may want to contact a plumber directly to fix the leak/s.

    Click here for a simple guide on how to read your meter and check for leaks!

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    What Do I Pay For Water?

    The Utility Rate Structure includes three rate tiers.  The first tier is intended to reward outstanding water conservation efforts by our customers.  The average household will see some usage in the second tier.  If you would like a history of your water use, please contact 949 361-8351. Residential customers that have a total lot size greater than 7,000 square feet may apply for a Large Lot Classification.
    Click here for a Large Lot Allocation.

    If there isn’t a large lot allocation form on file, the assumption is that your lot size is less than 7,000 square feet.  There is a one time application fee of $35 for the Large Lot Classification.

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    SC Times Guest Opinions
    The SC Times has been very gracious over the years for allowing the water conservation program to contribute Guest Opinion pieces, which are provided chronologically below.

  • July 2009 "WaterSmart San Clemente: A Win-Win Partnership"
  • August 2008 "SoCal Water$mart: New Residential Rebate Program"
  • July 2008 "San Clemente's Tiered Water Rates: It Pays to be Smart About Water"
  • June 2008 "An Outside Chance: Irrigation & Landscape Efficiency"
  • April 2008 "Water: San Clemente Can Do More With Less"
  • April 2007 "Earth Day Editorial"
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    Rob Machado PSA
    Please join pro surfer, Rob Machado, in being water smart this summer. Rob provides some practical tips on how to use less water during this time of shortage.

    Ecology Center: Basic Needs - "Water"
    If you haven't visited the Ecology Center in SJC yet, do so!! In the meantime, visit it virtually by clicking the link below the video. This video (click on it to play) highlights a fantastic talk by Brad Lancaster as part of the Ecology Center's "Basic Needs Summer Speaker Series" covering WaterSmart topics like rainwater harvesting and low water use landscape design:

    Have You Played WaterSmart Trivia @ the Krekorian Theater?

    Play WaterSmart Trivia 2010 from WaterSmartSC.

    What Resources Are Available For Schools?
    The Utilities Division has a 3rd grade water conservation and urban runoff education program available. Contact savewater@san-clemente.org for more information. In addition the Municipal Water District of Orange County provides presentations for schools and has online educational games/material.
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    Calculate the Total Amount of Water You Use
    Every aspect of our lives is connected to water, and we use enormous amounts of it to make everything from electricity to food to household products. For example, it takes 24 gallons of water to make a single pound of plastic, and over a hundred gallons to make a pound of cotton. Even the electricity we use is tied to water - with power plants consuming 40 percent of our country's fresh water resources.

    Use the H2O Calculator to measure your water footprint!

    Know Your Soil!
    Soil has a tremendous impact on the amount of water you should use in your landscape and how you apply water (frequency, duration, etc.). Clay soils are the dominant soil type in San Clemente and are like a very thin sponge: they can only hold so much water before water stops infiltrating and begins to run off. This is why it is important to break your irrigation run times into cycles and soaks.

    As an example, say you water your lawn for 8 minutes in the summer. After about 3 minutes of irrigation you may begin to see run off and water exiting onto cement or into the street. Instead, break the 8 minute runtime up into two 4 minute runtimes with at least a half hour of soak time between the two runtimes. This will minimize runoff, improve your efficiency, and make sure water stays in the soil and is available for plants!

    To view a generalized soils map of Orange County follow this link.

    To get a detailed look into what soils exist below your site, explore the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Web Soil Survey. This soil survey is interactive and provides a map of your site with overlays of the soil types found in your area along with detailed information about those soils.

    Outdoor Sprinkler Watering Guide

    The following chart suggests a weekly schedule for spray-head irrigation, assuming clay soils common to San Clemente.  Generally, the times indicated below are the MAXIMUM times you will need for full sun areas.  Start with this schedule and customize it based on the needs of your landscape.  Increase the times only if your plants show signs of stress.  If stress occurs only in isolated areas, check your irrigation system (e.g. crooked heads, blocked spray patterns, leaks, etc) before increasing run-times.





    % OPTION*


    January & February

    2 days, 2 cycles** of 2 minutes

    1 day, 2 cycles of 3 minutes


    Turn water off before it rains and let soil dry before turning water on again.


    3 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes

    2 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes


    March/April is the most active growth period for grass and other plants.


    3 days, 2 cycles of 4 minutes

    2 days, 2 cycles of 4 minutes



    3 days, 3 cycles of 3 minutes

    2 days, 3 cycles of 3 minutes




    3 days, 2 cycles of 5 minutes

    3 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes



    July & August

    4 days, 3 cycles of 3 minutes

    2 days, 3 cycles of 4 minutes




    4 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes

    2 days, 2 cycles of 4 minutes


    In September, plant water needs drop by ~30% even if the temperature remains hot because the days are shorter, so evaporation decreases.  Also, plants begin to go into a dormant phase where they need less water.  This rapid drop in water needs will continue in Oct-Nov.


    3 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes

    2 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes



    2 days, 2 cycles of 3 minutes

    1 day, 2 cycles of 4 minutes



    2 days, 2 cycles of 2 minutes

    1 day, 2 cycles of 3 minutes




    * Most newer automatic controllers have a “% option” button or dial (or called the “Water Budget” feature on some controllers) that permits the watering run times for all electric irrigation valves managed by that controller to be increased or decreased with just one adjustment by percentage.  The initial watering schedule is made for the July/August runtime, the 100% water need for plants in summer.  As an example, if it were November, the % Option feature would need to be manually turned to 40% in order to automatically reduce the summer schedule and to save water.


    ** “Cycling” provides deeper watering and healthier root growth while reducing runoff.  Allow at least ½ hour between cycles to so water can move down through clay soils and reach roots.

    Low Cost Ways to Conserve Water Inside Your Home!

    Nearly 450 million people in 29 countries face severe water shortages. Predictions indicate that within 5 years, at least 36 U.S. states will face water shortages due to a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, and waste. California is already experiencing water shortages as are other western states.

    But there is hope -- research has shown that residential water use could be reduced by as much as 50 percent through efficiency. Here are a few simple, low-cost suggestions for reducing your family's water consumption.

    Reduce Water Use from Showers and Faucets
    Although it's often the smallest room in the house, the bathroom is where 75 percent of indoor household water consumption occurs. Seem impossible? Consider this: The average 6-minute shower uses about 20 gallons of water! Reduce this amount with the following tips:

    No cost: Limit shower time to 5 minutes or less.

    Less than $10: Install an on/off valve between the shower arm and showerhead. This temporarily shuts off the flow while maintaining the temperature, and can be a useful water-saver while soaping up or shaving.

    $10-$50: Install a low-flow (less than 2 gallons per minute) showerhead. Previous low-flow showerheads sacrificed water pressure for efficiency, but now there are many options (GAIAM and Delta make two of my favorites) that don't simulate a dripping faucet.

    $20-$50: Insulate all accessible hot-water pipes, especially those within 3 feet of the water heater. You'll get hot water faster, avoid wasting H2O while it heats up, and save energy in the process.

    Finally, fit all household faucets with low-flow aerators (less than two gallons per minute). This is the best in-home water conservation method, and it's also the cheapest.

    Toilets can be Silent Assasins if they Leak!
    Each day, the U.S. uses 5.8 billion gallons of fresh water to flush waste. If you're in the market for a new porcelain throne, check out options with either a high efficiency toilet, or HET, 1.28 gallon per flush (gpf) rating.

    While pre-1994 toilets use 3.5 gallons or more per flush, an HET uses just 1.28 gallons per flush. Saving 2.22 gallons at a time may not seem like much, but if your toilet is flushed 10 times per day, that's a savings of over 150 gallons of water per week, or approximately 8,000 gallons per year!

    And if you haven't budgeted for a new toilet, try these quick fixes:

    Check for leaks: Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

    Displace water: Most older toilets don't require nearly as much water as they use (3.5-5 gallons) to flush properly. To "trick" your toilet into using less water, place a half-gallon plastic bottle inside your toilet tank to displace water volume. (Be sure at least 2.5 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly.) Ideally, weigh down the bottle with sand or pebbles so it doesn't interfere with the tank mechanisms. This simple retrofit could save a three-person family 225 gallons of water per month!

    Not a do-it-yourselfer? For only a few dollars, you can purchase a prepared toilet bag designed to displace 0.8 gallons of water with every flush.

    Minimize Appliance Water Consumption
    Outside the bathroom, most water is used to wash clothes and dishes. Rather than wearing dirty clothes and using paper plates, keep these tips in mind while tackling daily chores:

    Fully loaded: Dishwashers and clothes washers should be operated when full for optimum water conservation. If you must wash partial loads, adjust the water levels as appropriate.

    The dishwasher is your friend: Even old-school dishwashers don't use as much water per dish as hand-washing. Newer, more efficient dishwashers use only 1/6 of the water used during hand-washing, and save 230 hours of yourtime each year.

    Scrape, don't rinse: Pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwasher is unnecessary. Scrape off food and then trust that bad boy to do its job.

    Pass on permanent press: Avoid the permanent press cycle when washing clothes, which uses an additional 5 gallons for the extra rinse.

    Upgrade your equipment: Consider buying a High Efficiency Clothes Washer (HECW). Follow the link below for rebate information on HECWs.

    More information on Low Cost Ways to Conserve Water Inside Your Home!

    City of San Clemente
    City Hall | 100 Avenida Presidio, San Clemente, CA 92672 | Phone (949) 361-8200  |  FAX (949) 361-8285
    Community Development | 910 Calle Negocio, Suite 100, San Clemente, CA, 92673 | Phone (949) 361-6100  |  FAX (949) 361-8281
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