Water Conservation & Education
Public Education Water Conservation
Water is a precious and finite resource humans and communities must have to survive. When we turn on the tap, we naturally expect water will flow freely in abundant supplies. However, this behavior leads to unnecessary waste that can and should be prevented. By taking our water supplies for granted, we are setting the stage for a tragedy of the commons. We are limiting our capacity to grow and endangering the sustainability of our society for generations to come. What can you do to make a difference? How can you help prevent wasteful use of a precious and limited resource?
We've included some excellent tips provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that each of us can do around our house:
- Watch your water meter. To determine if you have leaks, take a meter reading and don't use water in your home for two hours. If the reading has changed during that time, you may have a leak. Silent toilet leaks can also be found by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank and checking if color appears in the bowl before you flush. Don't forget to check irrigation systems and spigots, too.
- Avoid watering the sidewalk. As much as 50% of water used outside is lost due to wind, evaporation, and runoff due to over watering. Make sure sprinklers only spray on plants.
- Turn off the tap. When you are flossing, brushing your teeth, or shaving, turn off the tap. Leaving the faucet on could be wasting up to eight gallons of water.
- End wasted water in the kitchen. Scrape dishes with a rubber spatula instead of rinsing and run the dishwasher only for full loads.
- Replace fixtures with WaterSense. When it comes time to replace an old plumbing fixture, look for a WaterSense label to save water and protect the environment. Launched in 2006, WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by the EPA that seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water efficient products, new homes, and services. More than 2,300 partners have produced and promoted 3,700 different models of WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, shower heads, flushing urinals, and new homes. Nearly 53 million products have earned the WaterSense label to date.
Leaks Waste More than Water
These are simple tips that every homeowner can employ around their house to protect our water sources, eliminate careless water-usage habits, and save money. According to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, "When households have a leak, it's not just a waste of water, it's a waste of money. But by fixing leaky pipes, buying WaterSense products and taking other simple steps, families can save on their water bills and conserve clean water for future generations to enjoy."
Additional Information to Consider
- Across the country, household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year - enough to supply the water needs of Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles combined. Easily corrected household leaks can increase homeowners' water bills by 12%.
- Homeowners' water bills provide an easy and quick leak-checking measure; if wintertime water use for a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, their home may have a leak. Fixture replacement parts often pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by enterprising do-it-yourself individuals, professional plumbers, or EPA's WaterSense irrigation partners.
Indoor Water Savings Tips
- Replace old water fixtures with the newer, low-flow fixtures, including toilets, shower heads and dripping faucets.
- Insulate hot water pipes, conserving both water and gas / electric by heating less water.
- Repair leaky faucets immediately; even a small leak can result in hundreds of gallons of water loss.
- Select high-efficiency washers and other Energy Star rated appliances.
- Locate your master water shut-off valve for quick access in emergency situations.
- Always wash full loads in the clothes washer and automatic dishwashers.
- Test your toilets for leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait a few minutes; if there is coloring in the bowl, you have a leak in the toilet.
- Turn off running water when you are brushing your teeth, shaving or doing other hygiene activities.
- Install faucet aerators on all of your faucets.
- Limit showers to 10 minutes.
Outdoor Water Savings Tips
- Do not water when it's windy; wind increases the evaporation rate and decrease the effectiveness of watering.
- Adjust sprinklers to avoid over-spray or watering the street.
- Inspect the sprinkler system after each mowing for damaged or misaligned sprinkler heads.
- If you plan to reseed or sod, choose a warm-season grass such as Bermuda or Zoysia; warm-season grasses require less water than Fescue.
- Adjust the cutting height on your mower; a taller grass shades the ground and root system, which helps hold moisture.
- Plant during the spring and fall, when the water needs are less.
- Avoid placing sod in areas that are hard to water without irrigation and on slopes; these areas will need to be hand-watered.
- Clean your driveway and sidewalks with a broom instead of a water hose.
- Aerate your lawn when needed to improve drainage.
- To prevent watering while it's raining, install a rain shut-off device on your sprinkler system.
- Collect water from downspouts in rain barrels to be used in your garden and on plants.
- Direct sump-pump lines and downspouts towards plants and shrubs.
- When possible, irrigate the roots of trees, shrubs and flowers with drip emitters.
- To reduce the run-off, water more often with a shorter run time.
- Remember, no matter how much the street is watered, it will not grow!