Outdoor Water Conservation
In the summer months, outdoor watering can account for as much as 50 percent of a household's water use. Please do your part to make sure you are being water smart!
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.
- If you wash your own car, use a hose nozzle and turn off the water while you soap your car.
- Bathe your pets outdoors in an area in need of water.
- Compost kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and garden waste.
- Water your lawn about 1” a week, including rain, in temperatures below 85 degrees. Hotter temperatures require 1 ½” per week for landscaping. As an easy rule-of-thumb, you can figure out how long it will take to get one inch of water by using the Tuna Can Trick:
o Place 3 to 5 empty tuna or cat food cans at difference distances from the sprinkler.
o After 15 minutes, stop the water and check the water level in the tuna cans. If the can is full, your lawn is properly watered. If it ran over, you’re watering too much.
o Note the time it took to fill the can and that’s how long you water your lawn.
- Use a timer when watering. It is easy to forget and over water.
- A hearty rain can eliminate the need for watering for up to two weeks — add a rain sensor and make weekly changes to your irrigation controller to account for weather changes.
- Water your lawn in the early morning or in the evening when there is less evaporation. Don’t water on windy days (it can be blown away from plants) and don’t water the sidewalk, driveway or street.
- Before watering, check the soil below the surface. Just because the surface is dry doesn’t mean that the roots need water. There may be moisture below the surface.
- Adjust sprinklers so you don’t water the house, sidewalk, or street.
- Water the roots and soil around plants rather than spraying the leaves and flowers.
- Deep soak your lawn. Water infrequently but thoroughly so that moisture soaks deep to the roots.
- Add soil amendments before you plant, such as compost or peat moss, to improve water retention and soil quality. Use mulch generously. It slows evaporation, keeps plant roots cooler and controls weeds.
- Adjust your mower to a higher setting and mow more frequently. Consider leaving clippings on the lawn.
- Longer grass blades provide shade and help hold in moisture longer.
- All landscapes require regular maintenance. Pruning, efficient watering and pest control will keep plants healthy and your water bill lower. Weed regularly since weeds compete with your grass for water and nutrients. Fertilize only the minimum amount needed. Extra fertilizer actually increases water consumption.
- Once a year aerate your lawn, particularly if your soil is compacted. This will improve the lawn’s health and ability to absorb water.
Pool & Spas
- Install covers on pools and spas to reduce evaporation. A pool cover is a clever way to reduce evaporation and the need to regularly top up your pool’s water level.
- Without a cover, more than half the water in your pool can evaporate over a year.
- Try to keep the water level of your pool halfway up the skimmer opening. Overfilling the pool stops the skimmer working as well and wastes water.
- Use a grease pencil to mark the level of your pool at the skimmer. Check it 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day.
Indoor Water Conservation
- Bathroom facilities claim nearly 75% of the water used. Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes. (Flush as soon as the test is complete, since food coloring may stain the tank.)
- Check your toilets for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed.
- If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
- Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or for cleaning around your home.
- Verify that your home is leak free. Many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
- Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at a rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons of water per year. This adds to the cost of water and sewer utilities and adds to your water bill.
- Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors to slow the flow of water.
- Install a toilet dam or displacement device such as a bag or bottle to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. Be sure the installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
- When purchasing new or replacement toilets, consider low-volume units which use less than half the water of older models.
- Take shorter showers. Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
- Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water and use this to water plants. The same technique can be used when washing dishes or vegetables in the sink.
- In the shower, turn water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair.
- Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded. Set the water level for the size of load you are using.
- When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don’t let the tap run while you are waiting for cool water to flow.
- Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
- Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste, instead of using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals also can add 50 percent to the volume of solids in the sewer system or they can lead to problems with a septic tank.
- Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce water-heating costs for your household.
- Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.
- Don’t let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.
- Install water-softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
- If you have a well at home, check your pump periodically. Listen to hear if the pump kicks on and off while water is not being used. If it does, you have a leak.
Other Conservation Links:
Texas Water Matters
Texas Water Development Board
Texas Parks & Wildlife