The City of Auburn is committed to protecting its water resources. One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to preserve water resources is through conservation. The American Water Works Association defines water conservation as doing more with less, not doing without. By making water conservation a year-round commitment, and not just a practice reserved for periods of rainfall deficits, we can all help ensure that our water resources will sustain us.
Everyone can make a difference through water conservation. Many times, water saving tips involve little to no monetary investment, but can help lead to significant decreases in water usage.
Indoor Water Conservation Tips
- Replace existing showerheads with low-flow showerheads. This simple change reduces water usage from approximately 7 gallons per minute to 2.5 gallons per minute.
- Take shorter showers and use showerheads with temporary shut-off valves to turn water off while shampooing or bathing. This can save more than 50 gallons of water per week.
- Use less water when taking a bath by closing the drain and filling the tub 1/3 full with the cold water that initially comes out of the faucet. The cold water can then be warmed by adding hot water.
- Turn the water off when you're brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or shaving. This change is simple to make and can save nearly 4 gallons of water per minute or 200 gallons per week for a family of four.
- Install faucet aerators on all sinks.
- Check for leaking faucets. One drip per second coming out of your faucet can equal 200 to 240 gallons of water per month. Leaking faucets can often be cheaply repaired by replacing worn washers and valve seals.
- Replace flapper valves on your toilets if they stick open after flushing. A toilet flapper stuck partially open can waste approximately 50,000 gallons of water per month.
- Replace old, inefficient toilets with new low flow toilets. Low flow toilets use 1.7 gallons per flush while older model toilets use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Look for the new EPA WaterSense label.
- Check toilets for leaks. Fixing a toilet that leaks 500 gallons of water per day could save over $1,000 per year. To find leaks, place a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet in the toilet tank and do not flush the toilet. Wait 5 minutes, if the coloring appears in the toilet bowl, you have a leak. On average, 8% of all home water use is wasted through leaks.
- Install a toilet displacement device or a weighted plastic container in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water your toilet uses during flushing.
- Check for leaking pipes. To conduct a leak test, turn off all water using devices and read the water meter. Eliminate all water usage for one hour, and then read the water meter again. If the meter reading has increased, then you have a water leak, and it is recommended you contact a plumber.
- Wash only full loads of clothes. This can save approximately 50 gallons of water per load. If it is necessary to wash a smaller load, then adjust water levels in the washing machine to a lower level.
- Check for leaks on washing machine hose connections. This could save up to 500 gallons of water per month.
- If you are using an automatic dishwasher, wash only full loads.
- If washing dishes by hand, do not run the water continuously. Fill one sink with wash water and one with rinse water. This can save approximately 200 gallons of water per week for a family of four.
- Use kitchen sink disposals sparingly, as they require substantial amounts of water to operate effectively.
- Do not thaw frozen foods by running hot water over the food. Place the item in the refrigerator overnight to defrost or utilize the defrost option on your microwave if available.
Outdoor Water Conservation Tips
- Do not over-water your lawn. As a general rule of thumb, lawns only need watering every 5 to 7 days during the summer. A 3/4 inch rainfall can eliminate the need for watering for 4 days.
- Water gardens and plants early in the morning when the water pressure is higher, plants aren't stressed, and little water is lost from evaporation. Irrigating at midday can lose as much as 40-60% of the water to evaporation.
- Water grass at night. Little evaporation occurs and there is less chance for disease occurring.
- Avoid watering on windy days as evaporation rates are higher and less water will reach your lawn or landscaped areas.
- Avoid overhead sprinklers if possible. Overhead sprinklers are 75 % efficient while drip or subsurface irrigation is 90 % efficient. Use soaker hoses if possible.
- Check irrigation timers on a monthly basis.
- Install rain sensors, moisture sensors, or humidity on all irrigation systems to eliminate unnecessary watering during rainfall events.
- Utilize Xeriscaping which is landscaping and horticultural practices that minimize water usage. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service has numerous brochures on Xeriscaping which can be obtained from their website.
- Check with your local nursery for advice on plants that are lower water users and more drought tolerant.
- Do not water sidewalks, driveways, or other paved areas. Position sprinklers so that all water lands on your lawn or plants.
- Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out approximately 600 gallons of water in 2-3 hours if left running. Use a timer to alert you to turn the water off.
- Install pool covers during the winter months to reduce evaporation rates and to decrease the amount of water needed for filling the pool during the spring.
- Increase your lawn mower blade height to at least 3 inches. A higher cut lawn will encourage deeper growing roots and will result in better soil moisture retention.
- Eliminate over fertilizing of your lawn as fertilizer increases the water needs of your landscaping.
- Mulch effectively around all plants, trees, shrubs. Mulching results in better soil moisture retention and weed control.
- Wash your car on the grass and not the driveway as this can provide water for your lawn. Turn off the water while soaping or use a hose nozzle. Utilize a pressure nozzle which can result in decreased rinsing time.