A photo of a sprinkler watering a grassy lawn.
With summer in full swing, Eastern Municipal Water District General Manager Joe Mouawad says residents should be more mindful of their water use. (Canva Images)

Summer is in full swing, and with that comes increased concerns about water use.

“I will say that our customers have done a great deal over the years of being very water efficient,” Joe Mouawad, Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) general manager, said.

That being said, Mouawad noted that nearly 70% of water used at home is for outdoor uses such as landscape irrigation, which is why the utility provides incentives for customers to adopt more water-friendly landscaping practices.

“We provide our customers with sample landscape plans to put in more drought tolerant landscaping outdoors, and we also offer training to landscape contractors so they can be skilled and informed as far as implementing irrigation systems and landscaping that are very much efficient,” he said. “There’s opportunities to make decisions and choices relative to drought tolerant landscaping.”

Mouawad said the utility is not against grass landscaping, but he said that they want the grass to be functional and not purely decorative. For those who prefer grass, he said the utility offers free weather-based irrigation controllers that can help customers to better control the amount of water they use to maintain their lawns based on weather conditions. The utility also has a program that provides recycled water to parks, schools and homeowners associations.

“We’ve been leading, in fact, the state and the country in changing over landscape irrigation from potable water to recycled water,” he said. “And that’s really helped us utilize the right water for the right purpose, meaning potable water for drinking and recycled water, where we can connect customers, for landscape irrigation.”

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For those who want to move away from grass landscaping, Mouawad said there are incentives available such as resources to remove non-functional grass and replace it with more drought tolerant landscaping options that can be found on the utility’s website.

“We recognize that water consumption increases in the summer, but despite that, I think customers can still be very efficient in how they go about using the water, be it indoor or maintaining their landscape outdoors,” Mouawad said.

Back in May, EMWD celebrated Water Awareness Month, Drinking Water Week and California Tap Water Day by sharing more about the utility’s work to provide high-quality drinking water to its customers.

“We provided free water bottles to fill up with tap water, and we also engaged with the customers and stakeholders throughout our service area, pushing out information regarding the high-quality tap water that we serve on social media,” Mouawad said.

The utility’s annual consumer confidence report about the quality of its water was just recently released to the public. The report shows all of the testing EMWD does on its water and the results of those tests.

“We conduct more than 46,000 water quality tests each year,” Mouawad said. “We have a state certified lab onsite that we [use to] do the analysis.”

But it’s not just EMWD operating in Riverside County, and Mouawad said the utility works with all neighboring agencies as well as regional wholesaler Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to keep customers up to date on the latest information.

“Often those messages are coordinated with our regional wholesaler as well as our neighboring water agencies so that customers hear a clear and consistent message from us,” he said. “And that’s an important part of what we do is make sure we’re constantly engaging and communicating with our customers as far as where we are when it comes to water use and water use efficiency.”

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.

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