Environment & Science

CA drought: State parks and beaches to shut off outdoor showers

In file photo, Matt Doll of Santa Cruz cools off under a shower at San Clemente beach.
In file photo, Matt Doll of Santa Cruz cools off under a shower at San Clemente beach.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

In a continued effort to save water, California State Parks will no longer allow visitors to use outdoor showers and rinse stations. That means no rinsing after hitting the beach. 

State Parks say visitors are the number one source of water usage at parks across California. Over 85 million people visit California parks every year and while overnight water usage isn't as much as usage at home, park officials believe the new rules are important for saving water.

While the parks have met the 25 percent reduction ordered by Governor Brown, there are still rules and regulations ordered by local water authorities for some of them to meet including replacing sink wash basins with waterless hand sanitizers.

In a statement, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat said residents should be mindful of saving water at home as well as when they visit the outdoors. The department is hoping to conserve about 18 million gallons of water annually with the shutoffs, based on the estimated use of over 1.2 gallons per shower or rinse.

In efforts to keep visitors calm, State Parks have offered alternative ideas to clean up. Some residents are not looking forward to what it may mean for them.

"Most people live far from the beach, and if they were to sit in a car covered in sand and beach grime for an hour, I think they would get upset," Justin Velasco told the Los Angeles Times

The shutoffs would apply to outdoor rinse off showers only, Eric Hjelstrom, sector superintendent of the California State Parks said. These changes were planned over a year ago in his unit after a well used as a water source began to fail, Hjelstrom said. Hjelstrom works with El Capitan, Refugio and Gaviota beaches in Santa Barbara. 

"We've got a lot of people who bring a five gallon milk jug in the car and when they're finished surfing they rinse off using that," he said. 

The state parks will begin shutting off rinse stations as early as July 15.