MSN: Partner in Water Conservation

MSN Living knows that conserving water conserves your cash. In an article on saving money in the New Year, titled “100 Ways to Save Money in 2013,” they mention water five times. Thanks for being a partner in water conservation, MSN!

Brushing Teeth - Photo Credit - Dominic Sayers

It’s never too early to learn good habits! Photo Credit: Dominic Sayers

#6: Turn off the Tap When Brushing Your Teeth

We’ve all heard it a million times, but MSN gets to the point fast: “The reasons are two-fold: conservation and cost-effectiveness.” They couldn’t be more right. We are all supposed to brush our teeth for two minutes, morning and night. According to MSN’s math, that adds up to “eight gallons of water a day, and over 2,900 gallons a year. The money will flood in when you turn off the faucet. (Not literally.)”

#9: Use Cold Water to Wash the Laundry

Photo Credit: Sean Freese

Photo Credit: Sean Freese

While using cold water does not necessarily save water, it saves the energy you would use to heat the water. Plus, washing dark clothes in cold water means the colors are less likely to bleed. MSN notes that washing laundry in hot water costs 68 cents per load whereas washing it in cold water costs only 4 cents per load. When you consider how much laundry the average family does each year, the savings are exponential.

Photo Credit: Liz West

Photo Credit: Liz West

#11: Skip the Bottled Water

Most bottled water comes from the same place as your tap water, all you pay for is the marketing. We forget that most people laughed when bottled water was first introduced into the marketplace – now we spend $15 billion a year on it, with the average person buying 167 bottles a year (according to MSN). That’s a lot of water you could have gotten for less than 2 cents a gallon.

Photo Credit: Pedro Reyna

Photo Credit: Pedro Reyna

#57: Use Your Dishwasher

We know it can be confusing – is it greener to use the dishwasher or to wash it by hand? As long as the dishwasher is full, you are good to go – especially if the chore of hand washing falls to a less-than-happy kid who is not looking for ways to save on your water bill.


Photo Credit: The Italian Voice

Photo Credit: The Italian Voice

#64: Wash Your Hair Every Other Day

Okay, the grunge look is over, and that is not what we’re suggesting. Some types of hair actually do better when washed less often. Shampoos can strip your hair of natural oil it needs to be healthy. Plus, constant blow-drying and styling can further damage your hair. So, with a shorter shower and all that styling avoided, you may find yourself with a little extra time to sleep in every other morning.

To hear the other 95 money-saving tips that MSN Living offers up for the New Year, follow this link:

How We Get Our Water

This excellent video from Curiosity Quest explores how local water companies right here in Southern California make sure we all have clean, fresh water every day. It covers where our water comes from, how it is stored, and how it gets to our homes. It was created in response to a young girl named Fern from Pomona, California, who asked what would happen if people keep wasting Earth’s natural resources, like water.

The Water Education and Water Awareness Committee (WEWAC) partnered with the show’s producers to make this episode happen. The committee is a partnership between the following water agencies: the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Glendora, La Verne, Pomona and Upland, the Cucamonga Valley Water District, Fontana Water Company, inland Empire Utilities Agency, Monte Vista Water District, Ontario Municipal Utilities Company, Rowland Water District, and Three Valleys Water District. To learn more about that partnership and about water conservation, go to

Amy’s five kids with their baby cousin.

Keeping hydrated is more and more important as the summer heats up. While sugary soda and juice abound, kids may not be as enthusiastic as they should about drinking just plain water. Still, it’s important that they do so that they can stay hydrated without unnecessary sugar, which can lead to diseases like diabetes – not to mention exhausting sugar highs.

For tips on getting kids to choose water, we sat down with mother-of-five Amy Moreno:

Q: So, how do you get your kids to drink water over sugary stuff?

A: Well, I think the biggest thing to do is set an example. They want to drink what I’m drinking – a lot of times out of my glass. So if I’m drinking water, they are too.

Q: What about when they have their own cups?

A: They like to drink water cold, with plenty of ice. Most adults like it better that way too, so why should kids be any different? Especially when it’s hot outside.

Q: How do you get them to choose water at dinnertime?

A: Don’t forget to list it as an option!

We’ve also heard from a parent who gives their kids a choice between soda and desert (which makes sense, considering the amount of sugar can be the same). That also teaches kids to think about the two as having similar amounts of sugar, so that they can develop good habits as grow up.

Planting a Vineyard

“Our Grapes, Our Wine.” Cathi and Claude can now drink their own wine while they watch the next harvest grow – while saving water on landscaping.

About two years ago, Cathi and Claude Bibeau sat in their backyard contemplating what to do with “Satan’s Berm” – a part of their backyard that sloped upward to their wall. Nothing would grow on it and it was a giant eyesore. Then Cathi got the idea to terrace it and turn it into a vineyard. It is now the major focal point of a complete landscape redesign that has cut their water bill by one third to one half (depending on the time of year). They have joined a wine-making co-op, which provides them with cases of bottles every year. Now, as they sit in their backyard, they can drink wine made from grapes they grew themselves – and watch the next harvest grow.

To bring this vision to life, they consulted George Walker, leader of the Cucamonga Valley Vinters Co-op and owner of the business My Hope Vineyard. George’s mission is to repopulate the Southern California with grape vines and continue our long heritage of grape growing and wine making. He helped Cathi and Claude tame “Satan’s Berm” with terraces and plant it with vines. Later this year, Cathi will adopt three of George’s heritage vines – 90 year old vines that you can still find in abandoned vineyards in Rancho Cucamonga. They will be transplanted to her front yard – guaranteed to make her house different from every other on the street.

Terraced vineyards are the focal point of the couple’s water-wise backyard.

When we think “drought tolerant,” grapes tend not to be the first plant that comes to mind, but it turns out that this area has produced grapes without much watering for over two hundred years. Before Napa – and way before Temecula – there was the Inland Empire, at one time boasting 30,000 acres of continuous grape vines. One reason grapes were popular is that they do not need to be watered after the first couple of years of planting. A mature grape vine can send its roots down one hundred feet to tap groundwater, which makes them ideal for our area, which has a great deal of groundwater, but very little rain.

How far back does grape production go?

The “Mother Vineyard,” as it is called, was planted at the San Gabriel Mission. Grape production spread east over the century, and continued in this area throughout the prohibition because the wineries were licensed to make sacramental wine.

Bottling Day

Cathi shows us the finished product – a petit syrah from local grapes.

The festival atmosphere at George Walker’s house is undeniable. Members of his co-op have gathered here in mid-May to bottle this year’s harvest, and they will each take home several mixed cases of Cucamonga old vines Zinfandel, Cucamonga Co-Op Petite Sirah, Temecula Chardonnay, and a more youthful Northern San Diego County Zinfandel. A giant jump house is full of kids, laughing and screaming throughout the day. But it’s hard to tell who is having more fun – the kids in the jump house, or the adults, who are clustered under pop-up tents bottling and drinking their wine at the same time.

The process sounds a bit like a chemistry experiment – the ph and acid balance of the wine is especially important. Wine from the crushed grapes has been aging in steel canisters for eight months. Sitting in with the wine during this time were oak corkscrews that give it the taste of wine that has been aging in oak barrels – all that really matters is contact with the oak, and the corkscrew design gives it as much contact as possible.  A small plastic hose draws the wine from the barrel into a bottling machine that allows these wine enthusiasts to fill three bottles at a time. They won’t be ready to drink for at least another six months. The young wine has a lot of acidity, and the aging process mellows the taste and deepens the flavor. That doesn’t stop anyone from enjoying wine from previous harvests, though, and the amazing thing is that the wide variety of grapes available to the Co-Op was grown in the Santa Ana watershed – most from Rancho Cucamonga – and some from as far south as Temecula and San Diego.

To learn more about turning your yard into a vineyard, visit

What’s Downstream? You Are!

What do you think about this video? It’s all about the use and re-use of one of the oldest and most enduring substances on the planet – water. It may be a little long, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.

This video was created by the folks at and the WateReuse Association.

Mind-Blowing Points:

– We have always had the same amount of water on the planet and it has been used time and again. That means that the water we drank this morning may have once flown through the sap of a maple tree or have been drunk by the builders of the pyramids.

– The water molecule itself cannot be polluted, it can only be mixed with pollution – that means that it is possible to get pollution like viruses and bacteria out. Modern technology like reverse osmosis is helping us start to get smaller and smaller things out of our water.

– Our bodies at 62% water, so even the molecules inside us have been around the world.