Every year during the first full week of May, Americans across the country join together to celebrate water, our most precious natural resource, during National Drinking Water Week.
There is as much water in the world today as there was thousands of years ago; actually, it is the same water! The water from your faucet could contain molecules that dinosaurs drank or even George Washington! The following are tips to help you conserve earth’s most precious resource – water.
Remember, less water usage means lower water and sewer bills, so – Use Your Water Wisely!
If you have questions or comments about water conservation, visit our Contact Us page.
Leaky toilets waste a lot of water! Did you know that your toilet could have a leak that you may not even know about? To test your toilet for invisible leaks, place a few drops of food coloring or a dye table into the toilet’s tank. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes (do not flush) and if the coloring appears in the bowl, you have a leaky toilet! To repair this, the flush valve (“flapper”) or the valve seat may need to be cleaned or replaced. Parts are inexpensive and easy to install.
The toilet is the single biggest water user in your home. Flushing a regular toilets uses 5 to 7 gallons per flush, which accounts for about 38%, more than one-third, of the water used in your home each day. By replacing an old regular model toilet with a new low-flow toilet you can automatically and permanently reduce your home water consumption by 25%. The new low-flow toilets, which are now installed per the building code, use only 1.5 gallons per flush. So if you still have a regular toilet, think about replacing it with a new low-flow.
If you cannot replace your toilet, consider reducing the volume of each flush by placing a toilet dam or a water-filled plastic bottle weighted with gravel in the tank if you have not already installed a 1.6 gallon toilet. Be sure not to interfere with the flushing mechanism. (Note: do not use bricks as they might disintegrate.)
And finally, don’t use your toilet at a wastepaper basket. It just wastes water and money.
A faucet or showerhead that drips just two tablespoons per minute can waste 15 gallons per day, which is 105 gallons per week or 5,460 gallons per year! So remember to fix those leaky faucets or showerheads. Worn out washers are the main cause of most dripping faucets or showerheads. They are inexpensive and easy to install.
Faucet aerators that mix air with tap water can reduce the flow to 1.5 to 2.5 gallons per minute. Without the aerators, the faucet uses 3 to 7 gallons per minute. Installing a faucet aerator is a simple procedure that can reduce your water usage.
Some showerheads may still use 3 to 7 gallons or more per minute. If you have not installed a showerhead which uses 1.5 gallons or less, you are missing an excellent way to save water and energy without sacrificing the benefits of a satisfying shower.
Check under sinks, behind your washing machines and around basement plumbing for suspicious looking wet areas. Leaks not only waste water, they could be damaging your walls, floors and ceilings.
Use your dishwashers and washing machines for full loads only. Newer energy and water efficient models are available. When selecting new appliances, check the water and energy efficiency ratings in the manufacturer’s specifications or consumer magazines and look for the Energy Star label.
We all use water on a daily basis. Here are a few tips that conserve our water:
Shut off the water when brushing your teeth, shaving or doing dishes! This can waste gallons of water!
Take shorter showers and don’t fill the bathtub to the top when bathing.
Keep a jug of drinking water in your refrigerator to avoid running water until it is cold enough to drink.
While dining out, say no to the glass of water brought to your table, if you know you will not drink it.
For more indoor water conservation tips, see the MWRA’s brochure .
Water your lawn only when it needs it. A good way to determine this is to step on it. If it springs back up, no watering is needed. If it remains flat, it is time to water. The best time to water your lawn in early morning (4 to 6 AM.) Watering mid-day will result in a high rate of evaporation and sun burnt grass and will leave grass vulnerable to disease from mildew and fungus.
Don’t water when it is windy. Your water will go everywhere but on your lawn.
Make sure that the sprinkler is aimed at your lawn and not the street or sidewalk.
Install a trigger nozzle on your outside hose. This will allow the water to be automatically turned off when the hose is not in use.
If you have an automatic sprinkler, make sure the timer or “controller” is set to water each landscape efficiently. Install a rain or soil moisture sensor that turns the system off when it rains or if moisture is present in the soil.
Raise the mower blade level to 2-3 inches or more. Longer grass retains more moisture because it shades the roots. It also encourages deeper rooting, requires less fertilizer and competes better against weeds.
Aerate your soil in the spring and fall to aid water absorption and retention.
Mulch can serve as ground cover that reduces evaporation from soil and reduces the number of weeds that would otherwise compete with the plant for moisture. Mulching reduces water evaporation from soil.
If you choose shrubs, flower and vegetables that need lots of moisture, place them near each other. You’ll save time and water by watering just one area of your yard.
Be aware of the various zones in your yard (hot/sunny, cool/shady, moist, dry, etc.) and plan your gardens and plantings accordingly. For example, if you have a hot, dry zone, select plants that can endure hot, dry conditions.
There are a number of low water-use plants that not only withstand dry summers but actually thrive in drier soil. Check out the Massachusetts Horticulture website at www.masshort.org for more information.
Use a drip irrigation system or soaker hose in gardens that need the most water: vegetables, fruits, newly planted trees and shrubs, and some flower gardens. A soaker hose is a canvas or rubber hose with perforations. It is most effective when it lies on top or slightly below soil level and mulch is placed over the soil and hose. You can install the hose in the spring and leave it in place all season. Drip irrigation can use 30%-70% less water than overhead sprinkler systems. In general, use the drip irrigation or soaker hose methods until the soil is moist 3-4 inches below the surface.
Place rain barrels or other large containers under downspouts to collect rain water to use for watering your garden. Use a lid, mesh fabric, or several drops of baby oil on the surface of the water to prevent mosquito breeding.
For more outdoor water conservation tips, see the MWRA’s brochure.