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Water Conservation

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Straight Talk on Water Conservation

As a society, we have become more and more environmentally conscious and better informed about the effect our lifestyles can have on the world around us. Yet, the demand for our most valuable natural resource—drinking water—continues to grow while local supplies can be threatened by drought conditions. Only one percent of the earth’s water is available for human consumption and yet, according to the latest U.S. Geological Survey, the United States uses 408 billion gallons a day. On the industrial level, numerous water-saving technologies have been employed to help conserve water. And while strong progress has been made, there are several simple steps that consumers can take to help preserve our water supply for future generations.

What Can You Do?

Evaluate your water habits: Have a family discussion about water use and ways to cut down. For example, do you leave the water running while brushing your teeth? Do you take extra long showers? There are simple things you and other family members can do to start saving water today.

Look for leaks- and repair them right away:  Most leaks are easy to detect and repair. For sinks, check faucets and pipes for dripping water. Replace washers and repair or replace fixtures, if needed.

Dripping faucets can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year in the average home.

Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.

Install water-saving devices: If you don't already have water-efficient or low-flow fixtures, you can cut your water use with: Aerators (devices that mix air with water), Low-flow fixtures (such as shower heads), Displacement devices (to reduce the amount of water used in older toilets). Make sure all devices are properly installed.

Save water while preparing food: Use a brush and bowl of water to clean food instead of letting the water run. Thaw frozen food in your refrigerator or microwave, not under running water. Reuse water when you can. For example, when you cook vegetables, save cooking water for soup stock.

Flush the toilet only when necessary: Don't use the toilet to dispose of trash. Also, consider installing a low-flow toilet. (Look for a toilet with a "Water Sense" label on it.)

Know the proper settings on your clothes washer: To help lower your water and energy bills, choose a water and energy-saving model if buying a new washer. Be sure it has such features as: a load-size selector, variable water-temperature controls. Use the load selector to match the water level to the size of the load. Presoak heavily soiled items.

Wash dishes wisely: If you use a dishwasher, wash only full loads. If you wash dishes by hand, scrape dishes (but don't pre-rinse) and soak pots and pans before washing. Don't run the water continuously. Limit your use of the garbage disposal. Better yet, Compost!

Use less water to clean your home: Use a pail or basin instead of running water. Also, use a sponge mop instead of a string mop (sponge mops use less water and take less water to keep clean). Pre-soak items such as grills and oven parts overnight.

Check hoses and irrigation systems: Use a hose nozzle that you can shut off or adjust to a fine spray. When finished, shut it off at the house to avoid leaks.

You should also:

  • check hoses and connectors, repair or replace any leaky parts or sections.
  • Keep irrigation systems running efficiently. Install shut-off devices like rain or soil-moisture sensors. Repair, replace or adjust sprinkler heads. Check often for leaks and perform other maintenance at least yearly.

Keep up with pool and hot tub care: Don't overfill. This helps reduce splashing and spilling. Use a cover to slow evaporation (this keeps water cleaner too). Check walls, filtration systems and inlets. Repair them when needed.

Minimize watering outdoors: Water when the sun is down (to avoid evaporation) and when it is not windy. Water slowly, deeply and as little as possible. Let grass grow taller in hot weather. Use mulch in the garden and around shrubs to save moisture. Plant shrubs and other plants that don't need a lot of watering. Consider alternatives to big, thirsty lawns such as native grasses.

You can make a difference.

Start saving water and money today!