Water Conservation Tips
Most of us take for granted an abundant supply of good, fresh water. We meet our daily needs when we turn on the faucet and get seemingly unlimited running water. However, this situation could change as the demand for water grows, especially in the spring and summer months.
Water shortages are certainly inconvenient and even scary. At first, they are hard to understand when we know that the United States daily rainfall equals 4.2 trillion gallons. However, water is not always located where it is needed and demand keeps increasing.
In the last 30 years, the United States’ demand for water has grown faster that our ability to find new water sources. During this period, our population has grown 52 percent, but total water use has tripled.
Just how much water do we use each day? Studies show wide variations in different parts of the country and between urban and rural households. On average, though, statistics show that in our part of the country, a typical consumer uses 50 to 75 gallons daily inside the house. We use the most for toilets, followed by bathing, laundry/dishes and cooking/drinking, according to the American Water Works Association.
Water use varies with the time of day and season of the year. Households use less water in the early morning, while most people are sleeping, and during the winter. Peak consumption is in the spring and summer and when the family gets home in the late afternoon.
In Forsyth County, the 38,000 customers of the Water & Sewer Department use an average of 9.5 million gallons a day. But in the summer, when demand is highest, water usage jumps to 22 million gallons a day.
Bathing and Personal Care
When you brush your teeth, don’t let the water keep running. Instead, half fill a glass and use that water to wet your brush and rinse your mouth.
When you shave or wash your hands, do not let the water run. Fill the basin and dip your razor or hands as needed.
Don’t flush the toilet unnecessarily. Each flush uses five to seven gallons of water. Throw tissues, insects and other trash into the wastebasket, not the toilet.
Turn the shower off while your shampoo your hair.
Bathe small children together.
Turn faucets off completely to avoid drips and slow leaks
Take short showers, not baths. Limit showers to five minutes or less.
Install flow restrictors on individual water fixtures like shower heads and faucets. They automatically reduce flow and aerate the water.
When you take a bath, only partially fill the tub. A good rule is five inches.
As you wait for shower water to heat up, collect the cold water in a bucket for watering plants.
Reduce the amount of water the toilet uses to filling a one-gallon plastic container with water and putting it in the tank to displace one gallon of tank water.
Wash clothes when they are dirty, not just to remove wrinkles.
Hand wash several items at the same time. Use the final rinse water from one group of items as the wash water for the next group.
Launder only full loads.
If the washing machine has a water-level control, adjust it to the laundry load size.
Use good laundering techniques. Sort clothes and follow the detergent recommendations carefully.
Check the hoses and look for leaks periodically.
Before using a permanent press cycle, read the manufacturer’s directions. This cycle may fill the tub an extra time, which can add up to 20 gallons. If so, use a different cycle.
Cooking and Drinking Water
Use tight-fitting lids on pans for keep water from boiling away faster.
Cook food in as little water as possible. Doing so also prevents the loss of nutrient value.
Save the water left after you cook vegetables for soups, cooking other raw vegetables or fruit. Refrigerate and use within a few days.
Select the proper size pans for cooking. Large pans require more cooking water than may be necessary.
Follow recipes carefully and do not overcook or measure out more water than necessary
Serve drinking water only if it is requested.
Use a small pan of water to wash, peel or clean vegetables rather the letting the water run.
Limit use of the garbage disposal since it requires a sizeable amount of water to operate properly. Wait and use the disposal only once rather than several times.
Hand wash cooking utensils and serving dishes that take up dishwasher space. Wash them as soon as possible to prevent food particles from getting hard and becoming more difficult to remove.
Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.
Scrape or wipe dishes rather than rinsing if they are to be washed immediately in the dishwasher.
Follow your dishwasher’s manufacturer’s instructions on how to best save water and energy. Select shorter cycles when possible or use less water.
When hand washing dishes, use a pan of soapy water for washing and one of hot water for rinsing. Doing so uses less water then a running faucet.
Use rinse water after it has cooled to water outdoor plants.
Clean up spills and remove spots as quickly as possible so you won’t have to mop the floor or shampoo the carpet as often.
Vacuum rugs regularly so you will not have to shampoo them as often.
Wash windows outdoors with a bucket of soapy water. Rinse quickly with a hose using a high-pressure, low volume, pistol-grip nozzle.
Plan household cleaning chores so that you can reuse water for certain activities. Clean lightly soiled surfaces first, then the dirtier areas. Doing several tasks at the same time can save water.
Clean the driveway, patio, sidewalks and garage floor with a broom rather than a hose and water.
If you wash your car, consider using a mild detergent and parking the car on the grass. Use a bucket of water to wash the car, then rinse quickly with the hose.
Lawn and Garden
When planting a garden, group vegetables needing more water together so you can apply water more efficiently.
Mulch shrubs and small trees to retain moisture in the soil for a longer time. Spread leaves, pine straw or small pieces of bark on the ground around plants.
Pull out weeds to eliminate competition for water.
When building or remodeling, plan your landscape or garden to minimize water needs.
Water thoroughly, but less frequently. Doing so promotes a deeper grass root system to withstand dry weather better.
Talk with your local garden center about the most effective irrigation systems and devices. "Trickle" or "drip" techniques use 25 to 50 percent less water than standard hoses or sprinklers.
Water your lawn between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. to avoid sun evaporation. Don’t water when it is windy and during the heat of the day. Set an alarm to remind you to move or turn off the water.
Be alert to water waste when you see it running down the driveway into the street or storm drain.
Check hoses, faucets and water devices periodically for leaks and malfunctions that can waste large amounts of water.
Water brown spots separately so that you do not water areas not needing as much water.
During periods of limited rainfall, reduce the amount of fertilizer applied to avoid water-demanding new growth.
When you plant new grass, try a variety that withstands dry weather. Consult the Cooperative Extension Service for more details.
If you have questions about water conservation, please contact:
The Forsyth County Water & Sewer Department, 110 E. Main St., Suite 120, Cumming, GA 30040, 770.781.2160.
Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Service, 101 E. Maple St., Cumming, GA, 30040, 770.887.2418.