Quick ways to save water following announcement of California's new mandates

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - It's one thing to mandate water savings, but quite another to achieve them as the governor has decreed.

On Wednesday the head of the Department of Water Resources said the state's new water mandates, boil down to a stick and a carrot approach.

"We're looking for cooperation here. So, we're looking for success, not to be punitive. But, in the end, if individuals and agencies don't perform, there will be repercussions including potential fines," said Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowan.

The state's 400 water agencies will determine how to best reach the state's 25 percent cut in water consumption in their own territories. "So the 25 percent is going to be measured against water use back in 2013, before the drought began," says the director.

The average water use in the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) is 55 gallons per person per day. KTVU set out to find what residents can do to save more water.

After stopping by Marcus Hardware in Oakland it was clear technology has changed significantly since the last drought.

"Well, I'd say we've become more refined with water saving where it was 2.5 gallons per minute, and now they've gotten it down to 1.5 gallons per minute, which is the standard on saving water on your shower heads and faucets," says Brian Alpward of Marcus Ace Hardware.

To save water we learned residents should first consider low flow kitchen and bathroom sink fixtures - but, new faucet systems can be costly and expensive to install. That's why, for just a few bucks, you can self-install screw in water restrictors on existing ones.

"You probably won't even notice the difference if it's on your kitchen faucet or bathroom faucet," says Alpward. That would add up to 15.5 gallons saved a day. The latest shower heads can save another 18 gallons. The latest low flow toilets save 8 gallons a day. "You can get a $50 rebate from East Bay MUD if you replace your toilet," says Alpward.

What about water using appliances? "You can get $250 rebate for an efficient washing machine," says Abby Figueroa, EBMUD spokesperson. Assuming two wash loads a week, a new washing machine saves 11.4 gallons a day. Meanwhile, assuming two to three dish load washes a week - new dishwashers save another 2 gallons.

Those water savings are before even considering law and garden. "The technology that's out there today, can really help you be efficient," says Figueroa.

It's time all of us take a home water saving survey because it pays back for itself in water savings over several years.