Gov. Jerry Brown asked for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in every Californian's water use last month, but in the weeks since, his goal has received a good deal of criticism for being unrealistic. Why is changing from our business-as-usual water habits - even on the small but significant things like a few shaved minutes off a morning shower - such a tall order? When it comes to actions such as water conservation, it can be especially difficult to translate good intentions into behavior changes. The lion's share, $549 million, would augment local and regional projects already in the pipeline, shortening the time between approval, implementation and results. Ultimately, however, people need to support not only the relief package also but individual conservation actions. A number of similar programs have still shown significant improvements in home energy use despite this effect, making the social angle promising for water conservation. [...] we can, and should, place our water conservation actions in the context of a larger collective; in aggregate, we make an appreciable difference for our community and California as a whole. Nik Sawe, a neuroscientist who studies decision-making on environmental issues, is a doctoral candiate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University.