Drought Conservation Tips
Tips Inside the Home
- Taking a 5-minute shower instead of a 10-minute shower saves 12.5 gallons with a low-flow shower head, and 25 gallons with a standard 5 gallon-per-minute shower head.
- Turning the faucet off while brushing teeth or shaving saves about 10 gallons a day.
- Using a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios instead of a hose saves 8-18 gallons a minute.
- Fixing the worn washers in a faucet with a slow steady drip saves 350 gallons per month, and 2,000 gallons a month if the leak is a small stream. Putting a new flapper in a leaking toilet can save 7,000 gallons a month. To test for leaks, put food coloring in the tank. Don't flush. Ten minutes later if you see color in the bowl, you have a leak.
- Installing a water-efficient clothes washer saves up to 16 gallons a load. A water-efficient dishwasher saves up to 8 gallons a load.
- Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while scraping them clean.
- Most water agencies offer free water use inspections. An expert will come to your house check for leaks and offer tips on how to save water and lower your water bill.
- Replacing a pre-1990 toilet, which can use 5 gallons per flush, with a newer high-efficiency model can save 38 gallons a day per toilet.
Tips Outside the Home
Lawns and Gardens
- If you must, water your lawn when it’s cooler – in the early morning or late evening – to reduce water loss from evaporation.
- Don’t water the lawn on windy days because much of it will be lost to evaporation.
- Set up your sprinklers so they're not spraying the sidewalk or driveway. Not only does that squander water supplies, it can also wash polluting fertilizers and pesticides into sewer systems.
- Turn your sprinklers off when rain is expected, and set up a system with rain/moisture sensors if you have automatic sprinklers.
- Use a drip irrigation system instead of a hose or sprinkler to water your garden, and hand-water your lawn or garden instead of using sprinklers when possible – you could cut your water use in half.
- Set lawn mower blades one notch higher because longer grass = less evaporation.
- Don’t let the hose run. Buy a squeeze (pistol grip) nozzle for your hose so you don’t have to use the tap to start and stop the flow.
- Minimize or eliminate your lawn watering. Plant native species that don’t require additional watering. Grassy lawns might make sense in wet climates, but in dry areas like the south and southwest, they're huge water-wasters.
- Set up a rain barrel under a gutter outside your house. On average, you can catch 4 gallons of water a day (more in really rainy areas) to use for watering the lawn, washing the car, etc. Just don’t drink it, and make sure to keep it covered with a fine-mesh screen so it doesn’t breed mosquitoes. Check your local municipal regulations to see if a rain barrel is allowed.
- Direct gutter downspouts and the water drain line from your air conditioner to a flowerbed, tree base or your lawn.
Tips for Recreation
Swimming Pools and Summer Fun
- Use a pool cover. Uncovered pools can lose up to a thousand gallons of water from evaporation each month (as well as energy if your pool is heated)! Learn more about swimming pools and evaporation.
- Keep your pool water cool to reduce evaporation, and keep the water level low to reduce the amount of water lost to splashing.
- Check your pool for leaks often, and if you find a leak get it fixed as soon as possible. Learn more about swimming pool leaks with this swimming pool water loss calculator.
- Make sure you’re on a dry part of the lawn that can use the water if you’re going to play with a sprinkler or water toy, and avoid buying toys that require a constant stream of water.
Washing Your Car
- Use only car washes that conserve and recycle their wash water, if available.
- Use self-service car washes. They use the least amount of water because they use high-pressure hoses that have a pistol grip and can be turned on and off easily.
- Don’t leave the hose running when you wash your vehicle. Purchase a squeeze (pistol grip) nozzle for your hose so you don’t have to turn the tap to start and stop the flow.
How to Isolate Indoor vs. Outdoor Leaks
Locating a leak is a process of elimination. Leaks are easier to detect if you have a water meter.
- Turn off all domestic (indoor) use water.
- Check flow indicator on water meter.
- If flow indicator is not showing water flow, the system has integrity with no water leaks.
- If flow indicator is showing movement, system has a leak. Continue to step #3.
- Turn off main irrigation valve.
- If flow indicator is not showing usage, water usage was in irrigation system.
- If flow indicator is showing usage, then usage may be on domestic side of service.
- Turn off domestic water supply to the home (located outside next to building).
- If flow indicator stops, usage is on the domestic side of the service. Continue to step #5.
- If indicator still shows usage, leakage is in the area between the water meter, irrigation main shutoff valve, and the house shutoff valve.
- Turn on domestic water supply at the home. Check the following locations for water usage.
- Toilets (flapper valves, float arm adjustments, and inlet float valve assembly). To check flapper valves use the following methods:
- Place food coloring in tank and wait approximately 20 minutes. If colored water appears in the bowl, the flapper is leaking.
- Turn off the water supply valve for twenty minutes, then turn back on. If tank has lost water and water starts to run, water is leaking by the flapper valve.
- Check inside and outside faucets for leaks.
- Check water-using appliances for leaks; i.e., water heaters, washing machine, ice maker and disposal.
- After leaks have been repaired, check all valves for correct "on" positions.
While some leaks such as a dripping faucet are easy to see, many are hidden and can waste thousands of gallons of water. To prevent leaks from going undetected, follow these steps every six months or if you suspect you have a phantom water waster on your property:
- Turn off ALL water using devices (taps, dishwasher, sprinklers, evaporative cooler, etc.) inside and outside your home.
- Find your meter. It is most often located in front of your house in the sidewalk.
- Remove the meter box lid. Note: some meter box lids have a "flip lid" in the center. If so, open this instead of removing the entire lid. Be careful when lifting the box lid to prevent injury to yourself or damage to the meter or meter lid.
- Verify the meter number to ensure you are checking service for your residence. The meter number on your billing statement should match the one stamped on the meter.
- Lift the meter cap lid to reveal the dial on the meter face (see diagram below). This dial monitors water use. Agencies read your meter in thousands of gallons, which is generally indicated by the white dials. If the triangle (flow indicator) or needle moves while all water devices inside and outside the home are shut off, water is flowing through the meter and you have a leak. While some leaks, such as a dripping faucet, are easy to see, many are hidden. A leaky toilet is one of the biggest water wasters found inside a home.
- If you have a leak, follow these steps on how to isolate the leak.
- When you are finished looking at the meter, close the meter cap to prevent damage to the lens.
- Replace the meter box lid, taking care not to damage the meter or lid.
Tips for Work
- Make a commitment to water conservation
Prior experiences have revealed that for any program to be successful, the desire to conserve water must be present from the highest level of management on down. Upper management should understand that water conservation is necessary and be fully committed to its support.
- Appoint a Conservation Champion
Companies that assign responsibility to an individual have better results than those that do not. So give someone within your organization responsibility for creating and implementing and maintaining your water conservation program.
- Determine how and where you use water
Know how much water is being used for each of your organization’s industrial processes and/or domestic needs. To assist you in determining how your on-site water is being used, you may want to install sub-meters.
- Learn about conserving water in the business environment
Learn from businesses have already established a water conservation plan. However, it is up to you to apply these suggestions to your particular situation in arriving at ways to reduce your water consumption.
- Check your system for leaks
Leaks can be detected by having a periodic shutdown of all water-using facilities and reading the water meter at intervals of the shutdown. If the dial on the meter moves, that you have a leak somewhere on your facility. If a leak is located, repair it as soon as possible.
- Set a conservation goal
It is important to have realistic goals, but goals high enough to require substantial effort. Allow these goals to serve as progress reference points. They will illustrate the effectiveness of your water conservation program.
- Involve your employees
Teach water awareness. Many companies have posted signs throughout their facilities, which help to create an awareness of water conservation among the employees. Creating competition among employees (for instance, establishing which work shift can use the least amount of water) is another idea. Once employees start thinking about their water use, water consumption usually decreases.
- Install low flow devices
Use toilet tank displacement devices or install vacuum flush toilets. If you already have these types of toilets, make sure they are adjusted to use the minimum amount of water required per flush. All showering facilities should be equipped with low-flow showerheads. Showerheads with on-off valves provide the opportunity to conserve more water than those without. Similar measures should be taken for all faucet fixtures.
- Be aware of water efficient equipment
As you replace the equipment in your plant, be aware of how much water the new equipment will use. Equipment manufacturers are becoming more aware of the need for water conservation and are designing pieces of equipment, which require less water. Examine all of the possibilities. You may find that you have a choice in your purchases of equipment and water conservation could well be a determining factor in the selection process.
- Monitor your results
Each water bill includes your consumption history. It is possible for you to follow this history and get an immediate idea as to how well you are doing compared to last year during the same months billing period. Use charts, graphs, and other records to keep track of your conservation progress.