Water conservation is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound way to reduce our demand for water.
In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds. Conserving water can also extend the life of your septic system by reducing soil saturation, and reducing any pollution due to leaks.
WHAT CAN I DO?
There are many effective ways to conserve water in and around your home. Look through this list for ways that will work for you. Many of these tips were gleaned from materials published by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). Indoor savings are based on a family of two adults and one child.
In the Bathroom
1. Make sure your toilet is an ultra-low flush model, which uses only one and a half gallons per flush.
2. If you're taking a shower, don't waste cold water while waiting for hot water to reach the shower head. Catch that water in a container to use on your outside plants or to flush your toilet. Saves 200 to 300 gallons a month.
3. Check toilet for leaks. Put dye tablets or food coloring into the tank. If color appears in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak that should be repaired. Saves 400 gallons a month.
4. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Saves three gallons each day.
5. Turn off the water while shaving. Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor. Saves three gallons each day.
In the Kitchen
1. If you wash dishes by hand—and that's the best way—don't leave the water running for rinsing. If you have two sinks, fill one with rinse water. If you only have one sink, use a spray device or short blasts instead of letting the water run. Saves 200 to 500 gallons a month.
2. When washing dishes by hand, use the least amount of detergent possible. This minimizes rinse water needed. Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
3. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator. This beats the wasteful habit of running tap water to cool it for drinking. Saves 200 to 300 gallons a month.
4. Don't defrost frozen foods with running water. Either plan ahead by placing frozen items in the refrigerator overnight or defrost them in the microwave. Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
5. Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Rinse them in a filled sink or pan. Saves 150 to 250 gallons a month.
6. Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more (even better—compost!). Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
1. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Chunks of bark, peat moss or gravel slows down evaporation. Saves 750 to 1,500 gallons a month.
2. If you have a pool, use a pool cover to cut down on evaporation. It will also keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals. Saves 1,000 gallons a month.
3. Water during the cool parts of the day. Early morning is better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Saves 300 gallons.
4. Don't water the lawn on windy days. There's too much evaporation. Can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering.
5. Cut down watering on cool and overcast days and don't water in the rain. Adjust or deactivate automatic sprinklers. Can save up to 300 gallons each time.
6. Set lawn mower blades one notch higher. Longer grass means less evaporation. Saves 500 to 1,500 gallons each month.
7. Have an evaporative air conditioner? Direct the water drain line to a flower bed, tree base, or lawn.
8. Drive your car onto a lawn to wash it. Rinse water can help water the grass.
9. Tell your children not to play with the garden hose. Saves 10 gallons a minute.
10. If you allow your children to play in the sprinklers, make sure it's only when you're watering the yard—-if it's not too cool at that time of day.
11. When taking your car to a car wash—a good idea for saving water—be sure it's one of the many that recycles its wash water.
12. Dispose of hazardous materials properly! One quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water, effectively eliminating that much water from our water supply. Contact your city or county for proper waste disposal options. And don't flush prescription medications!