WISE WATER USE

One Hundred Tips for Wise Water Use

  1. There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.
  2. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  3. Evaporative coolers require a seasonal maintenance checkup. For more efficient cooling, check your evaporative cooler annually.
  4. Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  5. Run your dishwasher only when it is full and you could save 400 gallons a month.
  6. Choose shrubs and groundcovers, instead of turf for hard to water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  7. Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps.
  8. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost instead and save gallons every time.
  9. Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.
  10. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks, so that every drop goes down you not the drain.
  11. Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
  12. Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours, when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
  13. Wash your produce in the sink or a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap.
  14. Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
  15. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk and save 80 gallons of water every time.
  16. If your shower can fill a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model.
  17. Collect the water you use for rinsing produce and reuse it to water houseplants.
  18. Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
  19. We’re more likely to notice leaky faucets indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses for leaks.
  20. Periodically check your pool for leaks if you have an automatic refilling device.
  21. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  22. Consider installing new appliances. They are more water and energy-efficient than older appliances. A new washing machine can save up to twenty gallons per load.
  23. Time your shower to keep it under five minutes. You’ll save up to one thousand gallons a month.
  24. Install low-volume toilets.
  25. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
  26. When you clean your fish tank, use the water you’ve drained on your plants. The water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, providing you with a free and effective fertilizer.
  27. Use the sprinkler for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
  28. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak. It’s easy to fix, and you can save more than seven thousand gallons a year.
  29. Plug the bathtub before turning the water on, and then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  30. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
  31. Direct downspouts and other runoff towards shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
  32. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day. This will cut down on the number of times you run your dishwasher.
  33. Reduce runoff that can be harmful to local waterways by altering the grade of your lawn to redirect fast flowing water to a mulched shrub bed at the low end of your yard.
  34. Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering.
  35. Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
  36. Choose a water-efficient drip irrigation system for trees, shrubs, and flowers. Watering at the roots is very effective; be careful not to over water.
  37. Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and can save 140 gallons a week.
  38. Reduce the amount of grass in your yard by planting shrubs, and ground cover with rock and granite mulching.
  39. When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
  40. Teach your children to turn the faucets off tightly after each use.
  41. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the heads in good shape.
  42. Before you lather up, install a low-flow showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save your family more than five hundred gallons a week.
  43. Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  44. Don’t water your lawn on windy days. After all, sidewalks and driveways don’t need water.
  45. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
  46. Make sure you know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save gallons of water and damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
  47. When watering grass on steep slopes, use a soaker hose to prevent wasteful runoff.
  48. Group plants with the same watering needs together to get the most out of your watering time.
  49. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  50. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  51. Avoid installing ornamental water features and fountains that spray water into the air. Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation.
  52. Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  53. Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
  54. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save three gallons a minute. That’s more than a thousand gallons a year.
  55. Buy a rain gauge to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives. Check with your local water agency to see how much rain is needed to skip an irrigation cycle.
  56. Encourage your school system and local government to help develop and promote water saving behaviors among children and adults.
  57. Teach your family how to shut off your automatic watering systems. Turn sprinklers off if the system is malfunctioning or when a storm is approaching.
  58. Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden with a hose.
  59. Make sure your toilet flapper doesn’t stick open after flushing; if it does, replace it.
  60. Make sure there are water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.
  61. Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.
  62. Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will also reduce heating costs for your household.
  63. Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark twenty-four hours later. Your pool should lose no more than a quarter inch each day.
  64. Cut back on rinsing if your dishwasher is new. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
  65. Use a screwdriver as a soil probe to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don’t water. Proper lawn watering can save thousands of gallons of water annually.
  66. If installing a new lawn select a turf mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions.
  67. Do one thing each day that will save water. Every drop counts!
  68. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  69. Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.
  70. Bathe your young children together.
  71. Landscape with drought tolerant trees, plants, and groundcovers. Call your local nursery or conservation office for more information about these water thrifty plants.
  72. Winterize outdoor spigots when temps dip to 20 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent pipes from bursting or freezing.
  73. Insulate hot water pipes so you don’t have to run as much water to get hot water to the faucet.
  74. Prune plants only when necessary to control overgrowth. Pruning can accelerate growth and require more frequent watering.
  75. Drop that tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save gallons every time.
  76. If you have an evaporative cooler, direct the water drain to a flowerbed, tree, or your lawn.
  77. Make suggestions to your employer about ways to save water (and dollars) at work.
  78. Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and other uses.
  79. Use a hose nozzle and turn off the water while you wash your car and save more than one hundred gallons.
  80. Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water-conscious community.
  81. If your toilet was installed prior to 1980, place a toilet dam or bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to cut down on the amount of water used for each flush. Be sure these devices do not interfere with operating parts.
  82. Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum number of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness.
  83. Wash clothes only when you have a full load and save up to six hundred gallons each month.
  84. Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on top of the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
  85. Pick-up the phone and report significant water losses from broken pipes, open hydrants, and errant sprinklers to the property owner or your water management district.
  86. Bermuda grasses are dormant (brown) in the winter and will only require water once every three to four weeks or less if it rains.
  87. Start a compost pile. Using compost when you plant adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
  88. Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
  89. Listen for dripping faucets and toilets that flush themselves. Fixing a leak can save five hundred gallons each month.
  90. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when necessary.
  91. Cook food in as little water as possible. This will also retain more of the nutrients.
  92. Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.
  93. Turn the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair and you can save more than fifty gallons a week.
  94. Bathe your pets outdoors in an area in need of water.
  95. If you must take a bath instead of a shower, fill the tub only halfway and save up to fifteen gallons each time.
  96. Water only as rapidly as the soil can absorb the water.
  97. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  98. Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colors.
  99. Place an empty tuna can on your lawn to catch and measure the water output of your sprinklers. For lawn watering advice, contact your local conservation office.
  100. Turn off the water while you shave and you can save more than one hundred gallons a week.

Brought to you by your local water utility in cooperation with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments