Californians, Have Your Water Habits Changed?

17-year-old Amber Ly takes the tap versus bottled water taste test. Credit: Youth Radio
17-year-old Amber Ly takes the tap versus bottled water taste test. Credit: Youth Radio

Earlier this month, 17-year-old Youth Radio reporter Savannah Robinson did a story for NPR about how the historic California drought was affecting her life. Turns out, not enough, if the length of her showers (13 minutes!) were any indication. Sabby made a commitment to reduce her shower time. And she talked to her friends in the San Francisco East Bay about another way they were experiencing the drought–in their tap water:

Normally our tap water comes from the bottom of our reservoir. Clean, fresh, cold water — which is a key element for salmon to spawn. With water so limited, the water district decided it needed to preserve that cold water for the salmon. So last month, it started taking water from a higher part of the reservoir instead — where the water is warmer. And that made a big difference.

Enough of a difference, that residents were grossed out by the funky taste and odor of their water, and the district reverted–temporarily–to water from the bottom of the reservoir.

Youth Radio’s reporting on the drought didn’t stop with Sabby’s story. We also used our brand new Youth Radio App, downloadable at Google Play, to poll 44 people about whether they’d changed their water habits due to the drought. Here’s what we found:


drought infographic

To join more Youth Radio stories, download the Youth Radio App, listen and join!

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Youth Radio Investigates is an NSF-supported science reporting series in which young journalists collect and analyze original data with professional scientists, and then tell unexpected stories about what they discover. National Geographic News Watch partners with Youth Radio to share the work of the young journalists with the National Geographic audience. Check out more from Youth Radio’s science desk at