New Timers to Shorten Showers

Leta Ames '20

Sustainability Column

What’s the with new “handy-dandy” shower timers? You might be asking yourself why it’s important to stick to a five-minute shower when we’re no longer in a drought. Well, sadly according to the Los Angeles Times although there were record levels of rain last year, some areas of California including Claremont, are still in a drought. Besides the pressures of the drought we must consider that our water supply is not limitless. According Golden State Water Company, much of Claremont’s Water Supply comes from pumped groundwater.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 7.11.12 PM.png

The showers at Scripps are fitted with low flow shower heads, which helps to reduce water usage. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a low flow shower head puts out between 2.2 and 2.5 gallons per minute, depending on the water pressure. This means that reducing a ten-minute shower to five minutes can save up to twelve and a half gallons of water. All this water can add up, especially when we have a limited supply.

Pumping groundwater does not come without consequences. According to the U.S Geological Survey, groundwater depletion can happen anytime water is being drawn out faster than it can be replenished naturally and wells in California are experiencing over pumping. Although our specific well may not be over-pumped, it is important to recognize that our water use directly reduces the amount of water that is available to others. Water use on campus impacts how much water is available to the other people in our community (all areas that rely on our wells) as well as how much water goes into the streams and rivers of our region.

A drought means that the groundwater we used is not being replenished at the same rate as before. According to National Geographic, during droughts like the one during the past four years, we may not be able to replenish that water, and not only would the capacity to support our food and lifestyle needs but also many people can begin to be priced out of affordable water. We should not be relying heavily on groundwater to support living in arid areas.

We need to have a culture shift towards region specific landscapes with native plants, low-water food choices, and personal grooming changes including shorter showers. This is where the new shower timers come in! Although reducing your shower to five minutes (or below!) won’t stop the effects of the drought or stop our reliance on groundwater, but it can certainly make a difference. Also, a simple shift such shortening your shower is a great way to start as you work to reduce your water use in all areas of your life.

If you have any questions about your shower timers, reach out to SEED at scrippsgreen@gmail.com. Additionally, please don’t remove the shower timers, and please treat them with respect. If one falls off, wet the suction cup and put it back up, but if it breaks be careful and submit a maintenance request to get them cleaned up.

Sources:

Dimick, D. (2014, August 21). If You Think the Water Crisis Can’t Get Worse, Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-groundwater-california-drought-aquifers-hidden-crisis/

Golden State Water Company | Claremont Water Quality Report. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from http://www.gswater.com/claremontccr/

Grad, S. (n.d.). Most of California is out of the drought. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-drought-gone-20170223-story.html

Groundwater depletion, USGS water science. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://water.usgs.gov/edu/gwdepletion.html

Reduce Hot Water Use for Energy Savings | Department of Energy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings