Water Efficiency Tips
Dripping faucets and running toilets are more than a nuisance. They waste water and cost money. A slow, steady drip can waste as much as 350 gallons of water a month. Water saved is money earned!
Sending solid or inappropriate items down the drain increases the amount of filtering and processing of the water required to recycle the water to be ready to use again.
All water is recycled. We drink the same water that the dinosaurs did, and future generations will drink that same water. That’s why it’s our job to use water wisely and protect water supplies whenever and wherever possible. If we each save a small amount of water each day, our combined savings will add up to millions of gallons each year.
If you are uncomfortable doing the work yourself, call a plumber!
One reason for leaks can be lime build-up on the faucet handle post. Clean it off with a lime-away product.
Leaks are often simply a matter of changing a washer. When you go to the hardware store, be sure to tell the employee what the washer is for. He or she might be able to recommend a special type of washer for sinks.
- Before you start, turn the water off to your faucet. Underneath your sink are the pipes that run to your faucet and handles that you can turn to shut off the water to your sink.
- Turn the handles clockwise to turn off the water. Remember the saying “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.” Turning the handle right tightens the handle and turns your water off.
- Plug up the sink drain once the water has been turned off. Use either the sink’s in-built mechanism for plugging the drain, or plug it yourself with a rag so you won’t drop a screw or a washer down the drain.
Take the faucet handles off. Use a screwdriver to take out the screw that is holding them on. Some faucet handles might hide their screws behind plastic or metal caps. You might have to pry the cap off with a flathead screwdriver to get at the screws holding the handles on, or unscrew a cap. Once you’ve removed the screws, pry the handles off with a flathead screwdriver. Some handles might come off easily without the need for prying.
- Once you have the faucet handle off, remove the old washer that was behind the handle. If there is no washer behind the handle, that is okay-you are going to add one.
- Take the washer you’ve purchased. Simply place the washer where the old washer was. The hole in the washer should be just slightly bigger than the post that the handle turns.
- Put the faucet handle back on the post and put the screw back in. Tighten the handle until it feels tight without having to use extra strength to tighten it.
- Turn your water back on by turning the handles under the sink counter-clockwise (remember, “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”).
- Check it. If everything went well you shouldn’t have a leaky faucet any longer. If your faucet continues to leak, try tightening the screws on the faucet handles just a bit more. If the faucet still leaks, then it really is time to call a plumber.
There are two approaches to saving water when washing your car.
Clean the car with a pail of soapy water and use the hose only for a quick rinse. Allow water to run into a hedge or shrub rather than down the gutter.
Waterless car wash:
- Choose your organic or petrochemical waterless car wash. There are many varieties available.
- Apply the product directly onto the paint.
- Buff or wipe the excess product away along with the dirt.
- Some products require a second or third “buff” step.
It is important to note that while all waterless car wash products have the same purpose (lifting the dirt off the surface of the car using lubricants and surfactants, they vary greatly in their make-up and effect.
Some waterless products also add a wax and some even block out UV to protect the paint. There are also very successful organic, natural waterless products that you can use in your home or inside the car as well as on windows. An Internet search with specific key words such as natural or organic will provide the answers you seek.
Use a micro-fibre chamois. Micro-fibres are tiny fibres that collect dirt. Other products that absorb liquid without scratching are available.
Run full loads in the dish or clothes washer or use a load selector.
Purchase energy-efficient machines and avoid extra wash or rinse cycles.
The recommended detergent amounts are about twice what you need. Use half of what they recommend & your clothes will be just as clean and your detergent will last twice as long – and there will be fewer chemicals in the water. Use natural soaps rather than harsh detergents.
Many beautiful trees and plants thrive with less watering, particularly native species. The Water Conservation Plan – 2008 (.pdf 3.8M) has many examples of plants that look beautiful and thrive in this environment.
Garbage disposals introduce solid matter into the water supply that then has to be filtered out. Start a compost pile instead. Aged compost can be used to enrich and add moisture to the soil.
All that is necessary is a place to put the compost and to turn it weekly.
- Have a mini compost bin indoors that you keep near your meal preparation area. It should be something that is easy to fill up, transport daily to the compost bin, and keep clean. You might cut around the top of a plastic milk jug leaving it attached at the handle and keep it under the kitchen sink to collect your compost.
- Locate your compost bin somewhere that is easy to access, so that you and family members will be encouraged to use it.
- Turn your compost weekly.
- To aid the decomposing, add some red worms, which can be bought online.
- For faster break-down, shred leaves, clippings; and crush egg shells.
- In dry weather, fill your bucket with water each time you dump in the compost pile. This will help add needed moisture.
- Bury a banana peel and other good scraps under grass and leaves. Bury food scraps under a layer of general yard waste if you wish to include them. It will help to discourage animals and flies. So will having a contained, covered bin.
Don’t let water run while you brush your teeth or shave.
If washing dishes by hand, have a wash and a rinse basin, only turning the water on when required.
Avoid extra cycles on dishwashers and washing machines.
Take shorter showers.
Toilets use the most water in our homes. Every day, Americans flush 4.8 billion gallons of water. Reducing the amount of water that your toilet is flushing away will go a long way to saving water in your home and helping to conserve it generally. With one easy adjustment, you’ll save money, water, and the environment.
Replace your old toilet with a new, low flush toilet, or use one of the many techniques available to convert your existing toilet to a low flush toilet.
Anything that does into the toilet should be easily dissolved, so put used tissues, trash, hair, paper towels, etc. in the wastebasket instead of flushing them.
Less than 5 minutes is adequate; any longer is recreation.
A partially filled tub uses less water than a short shower.
Select new appliances that are designed to minimize water use.
- Fill a medium sized bowl halfway up with water.
- Soak your vegetable in the bowl for one minute.
- Retrieve the vegetable after the minute is up and gently scrub with an unused plastic cleaning pad or a vegetable brush.
- Repeat steps for each additional vegetable.
Avoid running the tap just to cool water for drinking or utilize that water for other uses such as watering plants.
Your water meter is underground in a rectangular box with a metal or cement lid, usually found in or near the sidewalk. To get to the meter, you can remove the cover with a large screwdriver.
Once the lid is removed you will see a meter similar to this.
Odometer Style Meter
(Reading: 0000700 Billing Read: 1)
The Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) has one basic type of water meter. This water meter is read like a car odometer. Simply read the number across the counter (see diagram 1). The meter is read from right to left.
The VVWD water meters record water use in terms of gallons.
To determine your water use, compare your reading to one taken a week later at the same time of day. Subtract the first reading from the second to find out how many gallons of water you have used during the week. Divide the result by 7 to determine gallons per day.
For example, if your meter read 198,456 today and 204,289 seven days later, you’ve used 5,833 gallons of water (204,289 – 198,456). Divide 5,833 by 7, yielding a daily water use of 833 gallons.
The low flow indicator is useful to determine if you have a leak in your home or irrigation system. If everything in your home is turned off (sinks, water softener, dish washer, clothes washing machine, etc.), and the low flow indicator is turning, you have a leak somewhere in your house and/or in your irrigation system. If you do, you may want to contact a plumber or irrigation company to further investigate.
Water leaks normally occur in one of three areas; house fixtures, irrigation systems, and the customer-owned service lateral (underground pipe between the house and the meter.) Keep in mind that more than one leak may exist.
Sinks, showers, tubs, toilets, water heaters, and outside hose bibs attached to the building: Leaks on internal plumbing are normally identifiable by visually examining the fixtures in your house. You may be able to hear a leak by placing your ear on an exposed fixture or piece of pipe. Also check ice makers, dishwashers, washing machines. A warped or poorly fitting toilet flapper can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day. A toilet that is constantly running can waste up to 300 gallons of water an hour. Toilet leak detection tablets are available at the Virgin Valley Water District office.
Permanently installed underground irrigation systems:
Many leaks on irrigation systems involve broken sprinkler heads and can be found by visual examination. Leaks on buried irrigation system piping are not always easy to pinpoint. However, it is usually possible to determine whether the leak is on the irrigation system or not.
Permanent irrigation systems should have a master valve where the irrigation system connects to the underground pipe from the water meter. Check to make sure that all control valves, sprinkler heads and drip lines are turned off and not leaking. Then turn off the main irrigation valve for a few minutes. Turn the valve back on again, if you hear moving water, there is likely a leak in the irrigation system.
Customer-owned service lateral:
If you find no leak on the internal plumbing or the irrigation system, then it may be located on the buried pipe that runs from the meter box to the structure. Most licensed plumbing contractors have specialized listening devices that can help locate leaks on underground pipes.
To test for a possible leak in your system, make sure all faucets and water-using appliances, inside and out, are turned off. Check the position of the hands on the water meter dial, and record the reading.
On odometer style meters, note the location of the sweep hand and low flow indicator.
Without using any water, wait for approximately 30 minutes, and then recheck the meter; if the sweep hand or low flow indicator have moved, or if the reading has changed, water is leaking (or running) somewhere on your property.
In general, the property owner must repair, or hire a plumber to repair, any leak which occurs past the meter (the areas shown in green and blue on the illustration below). The areas in green and blue represent household plumbing and fixtures, yard irrigation system, and the water line between the water meter and the house. The Virgin Valley Water District will repair leaks on its system (the areas shown in white). The areas in white represent the main water line, water line between the main waterline and the meter, and the meter itself.
In case of an emergency, call (702)-682-3480.
Early morning or evening are the best times. Let grass grow higher in dry weather. Mulch your trees and plants. Avoid watering driveways and sidewalks.