How many gallons of water do California residents use on average?

Water usage in California varies greatly depending on factors like climate, demographics, and lifestyle. However, research shows that the average Californian uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day in their home. This amounts to around 29,200 to 36,500 gallons per year per person.

Quick Overview

The average Californian uses 80-100 gallons of water per day at home. This equals around 29,200-36,500 gallons per year. Usage depends on climate, demographics, and lifestyle factors.

Breakdown by Region

Water usage in California differs significantly by region due to climate and geographical variations across the state:

  • Northern California residents use around 60-80 gallons per day
  • Central Coast residents use around 80-100 gallons per day
  • Inland Valley residents use around 100-130 gallons per day
  • Southern California coastal residents use around 100-150 gallons per day
  • Desert residents use around 150-250 gallons per day

The desert regions have the highest usage due to hotter temperatures and the need for landscape irrigation. The cooler coastal and northern regions tend to have lower usage.

Factors Affecting Water Usage

Several key factors influence how much water the average Californian uses:

Climate and Geography

As mentioned above, climate plays a major role. Hotter, drier regions use more water for irrigation and cooling needs. Coastal areas with mild weather tend to use less.

Household Size

Larger households with more residents will use more water for bathing, cleaning, laundry, etc. Single-person households use less on average.

Wealth and Income

Wealthier communities with larger properties tend to use more water for landscaping, pools, etc. Low-income areas often have lower usage.

Yard and Lot Size

Homes with large irrigated lawns and gardens use much more water than those with smaller yards. Urban residents often use less than suburban and rural households.

Age of Fixtures

Older homes with outdated, inefficient fixtures and appliances tend to have higher water usage. New construction usually incorporates water-saving features.

Conservation Habits

Households with conservation-focused habits like low-flow fixtures, drip irrigation, greywater systems, and low-water landscaping can significantly reduce usage.

Breakdown of Residential Use

Average daily water usage per person in a California single-family home breaks down as follows:

Use Gallons
Showers 11
Clothes Washers 15
Dishwashers 4
Toilets 19
Baths 2
Leaks 14
Faucets 10
Other Domestic Use 5
Indoor Subtotal 80
Outdoor Irrigation 20
Total 100

As shown, the major indoor water uses are toilets, showers, clothes washers, and leaks. Outdoor irrigation accounts for around 20 gallons per day depending on climate and yard size.

Changes Over Time

Average daily water usage in California has decreased significantly over the past few decades due to conservation efforts and efficiency gains:

  • 1990s – 192 gallons per day per person
  • Early 2000s – 170 gallons per day per person
  • 2010s – 130 gallons per day per person
  • 2020s – 80-100 gallons per day per person

This represents nearly a 50% reduction in average home water use. Savings have come from low-flow fixtures, drip irrigation, drought-tolerant landscaping, greywater systems, and changes in behavior.

Commercial and Agricultural Usage

While this article focuses on residential usage, it’s important to note that agriculture accounts for around 80% of California’s overall water consumption. Commercial and industrial use combined make up around 10%.

Key agricultural statistics:

  • California produces over 400 different crops
  • 9 million acres of farmland under irrigation
  • 80% of all water goes to agriculture
  • Flood irrigation still common, wastes significant water
  • Improved efficiency could save over 5 million acre-feet per year

Major crops like almonds, pistachios, avocados, and grapes have high water needs. But efficiency is improving through methods like drip irrigation, crop and soil moisture sensors, and irrigation scheduling.

Conservation Tips for Residents

Californians looking to reduce their water usage can take steps like:

  • Installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators
  • Upgrading toilets, clothes washers, and dishwashers to high-efficiency models
  • Fixing leaks promptly
  • Using drip irrigation for landscaping and gardens
  • Planting native, drought-tolerant plants
  • Using compost/mulch to retain soil moisture
  • Taking 5 minute showers instead of baths
  • Only washing full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Using recycled or greywater for landscaping when possible

Simple everyday habits like turning off the faucet while brushing teeth, limiting showers, and only running full loads also trim water waste.

Policy Efforts to Reduce Use

In addition to voluntary conservation efforts, California uses several policy strategies to incentivize water savings:

  • Tiered pricing – Charging higher rates beyond a basic allocation to discourage excess use
  • Rebates and incentives – For installing high-efficiency appliances, fixtures, irrigation systems
  • Water use restrictions – Banning wasteful practices like hosing down sidewalks and driveways
  • Plumbing codes – Requiring water-saving fixtures in new construction
  • Water budgets – Capping usage for communities based on needs

These measures, combined with public education campaigns, have proven effective at driving down both residential and agricultural usage over time.

Future Outlook

California will likely see continued reductions in residential water use due to:

  • Ongoing replacement of older inefficient appliances, fixtures, and irrigation systems
  • New water-saving technologies like smart sprinklers, greywater systems, recycled water
  • Increased urbanization and smaller yard sizes
  • Behavior changes and greater conservation awareness

However, the state’s frequent droughts make further progress essential. Smarter urban planning, expanded storage and recycling, reductions in agricultural use, and other innovations will be needed long-term.


The average California resident today uses around 80-100 gallons of water per day at home, down significantly from decades past. While this is good progress, continued efforts around efficiency, technology, and behavioral changes will be vital to provide for the state’s growing population and frequent droughts. California communities have demonstrated their ability to dramatically cut water usage through innovation and conservation.

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