7 Ways to Conserve Water During a Drought
By Joan Whetzel
Americans use an average of 100 to 175 gallons of water daily. However, when an area is under extreme drought conditiions and high fire danger, and when if temperatures hover in the triple digits, it is essential that water be curtailed in order to maintain water supplies and water pressure. So many communities in the southern states - likeTexas, Louisiana and parts of Oklahoma - enact water restrictions to encourage water conservation. Here are 7 ways for people living in drought stricken areas to conserve water.
1. Conserve on Lawn Watering
As an incentive to use less water on the lawn, you may be interested to know that curbing water usage on lawns and landscaping means you get to mow less often. Here are a few methods for lawn watering conservation.
- Give the lawn only 1 inch of water per week. Either use a timer that cuts off after 1 inch has been delivered, or place a rain catching device in the yard the next time the sprinkler is turned on. Then measure how long it takes to reach one inch of water.
- Only water the lawn early in the morning or later in the evening, not in the heat of the day. Midday heat increases evaporation, minimizing the amount that is actually being fed to the lawn. In addition, any water resting on the surface of the grass magnifies the afternoon sun, which burns the grass. Remember those experiments that use magnifying glasses to start fires? It's the same effect.
- Place thick layers of mulch around plants and flower beds. The mulch retains water and keeps the beds moist for longer periods.
- Place sprinklers so that only lawns and landscaping are getting watered, not concrete sidewalks and driveways, which only speed evaporation.
- Plant heat and drought tolerant plants.
2. Collecting Rain
Some areas are lucky enough to get occasional rains (yet not enough for drought relief). For those living in areas with a bit of rain, but still in drought conditions:
- Set up tubs, buckets or pots around the yard to collect the rain water.
- Set up barrels to collect rain from the gutters.
- Set up a rainwater collection system during the rainy season to hedge your bets against a dry spell.
- Use the collected rain water to water your plants.
3. Turn Off Faucets and Fix Leaks
Gallons of water get wasted daily due to leaky plumbing or simply leaving the water running. Waste less water with these suggestions:
- Repair leaky faucets and toilets. The repairs are cheap and the water savings huge.
- When brushing teeth or shaving, turn off the faucet until it's time to rinse.
- Use garbage disposals less, since they require huge amounts of water to keep the garbage moving down the pipeline. Instead consider creating a compost pile which can be used to mulch plant beds.
- Don't use running water to rinse dishes when washing dishes by hand. For double sinks, fill one with soapy water and one with clean rinse water. For single basin sinks, fill the sink with soapy water and a plastic rinse basin with fresh water for rinsing.
4. Full Loads in the Dishwasher and Washing Machine
Other ways to use less water for dishes and laundry include the following:
- Only operate the washing machine and dishwasher when completely full.
- Install high-efficiency appliances.
- Don't pre-rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. It isn't strictly necessary since most modern dishwashers do a good job of cleaning dishes without pre-rinsing.
5. Shorter Showers and Less Bathwater
Yes, there are ways to use less water on personal hygiene. Take a cue from the military - no more "Hollywood Showers."
- Take shorter showers, which use less water than filling a bathtub.
- Take shallower baths, reducing the water level 1 to 2 inches.
6. Carwash Conservation
This area of conservation may disturb some people more than others.
- Conserve water by washing cars less frequently. Gasp! (It's only temporary.)
- If the car must be washed (for job purposes or for special occasion like a wedding), fill a bucket with soapy water and use a hose with a cut-off nozzle.
- Better yet, try one of the new eco-friendly waterless car wash systems. They're supposed to clean, shine and protect your car without any water.
7. Water Conservation Fixtures
Faucets and showerheads allow a lot of water to flow down the drain. Try this:
- Install low-flow faucet aerators in all sinks.
- Replace showerheads with low-flow restrictors.
Home water conservation techniques don't have to cost a lot of money. True, the water saving appliances can be costly up front, but will save water and money over time. Most of the drought time water saving methods cost little or no money. It's simply a matter of making a conscious effort to turn the water off. Not only will water be saved for everyone's benefit, you'll see a fringe benefit of your own as well - a lower monthly water bill.