What is the proper length of dry bathing in California?

On cold mornings by L.A. standards, Camilo Loza sometimes takes a hot bath before heading to the gym.

After rehearsing the Stairmaster, he biked home to Windsor Hills and showered again. And a few nights a week, he takes a third bath when he gets home from work.

California Now in the third year The drought is among the worst ever. But Loza says bathing is his only enjoyment in a one-room apartment that has no lawn, garden, or pool.

“My water use is minimal, and it’s often beneficial,” said Loza, 32, who works in logistics for an inherited food company. Previously working as a cook in restaurants and hotels, he left those jobs believing that even modest water cuts in institutions and businesses “would have a far more profound effect than anything I could do at home.”

driven by worsening drought conditions and low supplies From a complex system of reservoirs, canals and dams that provide water to millions, the Metropolitan District has issued water Toughest water cut ever Last month. Starting June 1, nearly 4 million customers in Los Angeles will do so You face new limitations On water use, with outdoor watering limited to two days a week.

Governor Gavin Newsom told the state’s largest water supplier last week that if conservation efforts don’t improve this summer, the state may. Forced to impose mandatory restrictions. Water Use in Cities and Towns Across California It increased by almost 19% in March compared to 2020, according to state officials.

Rain is not in the crossfire yet. But officials are encouraging Californians to save water wherever they can, including while showering, which is one of the easiest places to waste — or conserve — a few gallons a day.

Which raises the question: How long is the right time to take a shower? Is it the national average of eight minutes, which US Environmental Protection Agency estimates It uses more than a trillion gallons every year? Is it a so called sea shower – water for 30 seconds, lather, rinse for a minute or so?

Or is it a Newsom model? Last month, the governor encouraged Californians to shorten showers to five minutes and stay away from unusable bathrooms Up to 2.5 times the amount of water.

This is second nature to some Californians whose habits have stuck after past droughts. Others are fixing their behaviors now, sticking egg timers to shower walls, installing low-flow shower heads, or turning off the tap while they lather.

Zan Dubin-Scott started putting a watering can in her bathroom to catch the water, then use it to water her potted plants.

Zan Dubin-Scott, who lives in Santa Monica, recently started putting a watering can in the shower to catch the water as it warms up. The 2.1-gallon, terracotta-colored can’t accommodate the 5-gallon tubs others are recommending, but Dobbin Scott knows she can easily lift and reuse the water in her pot plants.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Zan Dubin-Scott, who lives in Santa Monica, recently started putting a watering can in the shower to catch the water as it warms up.

The 2.1-gallon, terracotta-colored can’t accommodate the 5-gallon tubs others are recommending, but Dobbin Scott knows she can easily lift and reuse the water in her pot plants.

“It’s about not letting perfection be the enemy of the good,” said Dubin Scott. “Imagine if every Californian put a tiny little watering can in their bathroom and saved 2.1 gallons each day.”

But losing or scaling back the comfortable, serene solitude of a daily shower can be a tough sell, even when you’re dehydrated. If a few extra gallons go down the drain, as some say, they’d still prefer to give up anything else first.

“In this hellish place we live in, it’s the only joy I have left,” said Inya Titova, 40, a lawyer in San Francisco.

The bathroom is one of the few places where Titova can put her phone down and relax. The warm water soothes her aching joints. Sometimes, she does a little yoga. You rarely get out in less than 20 minutes.

Titova said she generally leads a water-conscious life, in a small apartment without a yard, with a diet light in meat, which has a large water footprint. So don’t worry about taking a shower any longer.

“I don’t exaggerate the metaphor,” said Titova, “but my bathroom is a drop in a bucket.” “I would like to continue showering for as long as humanly possible.”

    Zan Dubin Scott uses shower water on her potted plants

“Imagine if every Californian put very few watering cans in the shower and saved 2.1 gallons each day,” said Zane Dubin-Scott, here using water collected in a bathtub for potted plants.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

About 80% of California’s water is used in agriculture, with the remaining 20% ​​used in homes, businesses, factories and institutions, said Heather Cooley, director of research at the Pacific Institute, an Oakland nonprofit focused on water issues.

She said about two-thirds of the water in urban areas is for residential purposes, split evenly between indoor and outdoor use.

One person’s shower habits won’t end the dehydration. She said all Californians should try to get into a water conscious mindset.

“There is always a bigger user out there,” Cooley said. “There is always a crop that uses more water, or someone who has more land, or someone who has a bigger yard. The inevitable conclusion is that no one does anything. But what we really need is for everyone to do something.”

But activists say “something” doesn’t have to be just shorter showers. Californians can eat less meat, which takes a lot of water to produce. They can install low-flow devices. Or they can learn more about proposed infrastructure changes and legislation that will encourage better water use among large corporations and businesses.

“It’s responsible for people to cut back on showering and washing cars and replace their lawns with drought,” said Jennifer Molidor, senior food activist at the Center for Biological Diversity, the conservation group. “But they also have to put pressure on the largest municipal users and the largest users in general.”

Then there’s the change anyone can make, even a renter: Swap out the shower head.

Rain accounts for about 17% of indoor water use across the United States, according to federal data. This number is believed to be slightly lower in California, in part due to the country’s more stringent hardware standards.

California Reduces water flow to shower heads Sold in the state to 1.8 gallons per minute, up to 28% of older models can use up to 2.5 gallons per minute.

Replacing an older showerhead with a more efficient model is “a foolproof way to save more water without having to think about it,” said Terence McCarthy, director of water resources policy at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy.

DWP sends free shower heads and faucet aerators to customers who ask them.

McCarthy said the average daily water use for customers staying at DWP, which includes everything from watering the lawn to drinking a glass, is 76 to 77 gallons.

The facility has asked resident clients to reduce their daily water use by seven gallons, roughly 10%. The tool said the savings could be achieved by cutting four minutes off your daily shower or turning off the tap while brushing and shaving.

In previous dry spells, the department recommended residents try “sea” showers – using suds with the tap closed – and placing a bucket under the tap that can absorb water as it warms. This soap-free water and any debris can be reused to quench thirsty houseplants or yards.

Jane Rowley of Huntington Beach said her family has already swapped out their shower heads with more efficient models.

But in the past few years, she’s also cut back on her showers after reading media reports of little rain and seeing dry, dry hills while driving down the highway.

Rowley, a retired math teacher, traces her routine back to science: On the first day, she does a full workout, then showers for 8 to 10 minutes, including washing her hair. On the second day, you rest. On the third day, she rode her gym bike, then did a quick scrub without shampooing.

Rowley said cutting back on her daily showers wasn’t a huge sacrifice, as she had always viewed showers as “just something that’s on my to-do list. I find it almost annoying.”

All the changes, she said, gave Rulli a sense of confidence, “When more stringent requirements come in, I’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, I’m already doing that.'” “”

The idea of ​​asking each customer to reduce their water use by the same amount didn’t sit well with Howard Seth Cohen, a substitute teacher who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Echo Park with his wife and two cats. Instead, he said, every customer should get the same share, no matter where they live.

“If they ask us to limit use, it should be distributed fairly,” Cohen said. “It does not matter if a person lives on a larger area or has a yard. This person should not be allowed to use more water than a resident of an urban apartment.”