Conserve today for a better tomorrow! A drought isn’t predictable. That’s a science whose time has not yet come. About the best scientists can do is look at what’s happened in the past and calculate the odds of future rainfall. Wise water use must be a way of life in southern Nevada, all the time, drought or not, please do not waste water.
As population figures climb, future water supplies are by no means dependable. Even though we cannot predict the weather, we can do many things to stretch the supplies we have.
The Future is in your Hands… Don’t Waste It!!!
Follow the tips below and save hundreds of gallons each month:
Leaks and water meters Unseen or unfixed, they can drip hundreds, even thousands of gallons of water wastefully down the drain. A little detective work can catch these water thieves in the act and put them out of circulation.
First things First — Reading your Water Meter – This will help you isolate and find leaks anywhere on your property, both inside and outside your house.
About 90 percent of all residential water meters in our area, are in the front sidewalk of the home. The meter lid is generally marked “water”.
You can lift the lid of the meter box (you may need a screwdriver for leverage) and carefully lay it down on its top. Make sure no wires are pinched or damage done to the meter or equipment as fines are assessed for damage to meters done by customers or their representatives.
You should see a plastic lid. This is the cover for your meter’s face. You may open the lid and should see either a digital readout (Sensus Meter), or an odometer style gauge (Badger Meter).
The numbers showing on the readout are your meter reading. We round to the nearest thousand gallons for billing, so on a Sensus Meter, with a readout of 0003021.59 your billing read would be 3, indicating 3000 gallons. On the Badger Meter the white numbers indicate the read so a register showing 0147123 (0147 in white and 123 in black), the billing read would be 147, indicating 147,000 gallons.
There are leak, or low flow indicators on both meter styles. For Sensus Meters, there is a digital circle underneath the readout. If the circle has a plus-sign inside it, there is water going through the meter. For Badger Meters there is a small red triangle or star shape dial. If this dial is turning, there is water going through the meter.
How to Isolate Indoor vs. Outdoor Leaks
- Turn off all water inside and outside your home (sprinklers, dishwasher, etc.), then check meter. If low flow dial is turning (Badger Meters) or plus-sign appears in digital circle on meter face (Sensus Meters) you may have a leak.
- Find the water shutoff valve for the inside of your home. (In the garage, near the water heater, in front of the house (Sunset Greens), or in your homes manifold system. Make sure the water is turned off at these sources.
- Go back to your meter and check the low flow indicator. If it has stopped moving or the circle is empty, the leak is somewhere inside the house behind the valve you just shut off.
Check the following locations for inside water leaks:
- Toilets (flapper valves, float arm adjustments, and inlet float valve assembly). To check flapper valves, use the following methods:
Place dye tablet or food coloring in tank and wait approximately 15 minutes. DO NOT FLUSH! If colored water appears in the bowl, the flapper is leaking.
- Check inside and outside faucets for leaks.
- Check water-using appliances for leaks or malfunction, i.e., water softeners, water heaters, washing machine, ice maker etc.
- If the dial is still moving, or the plus-sign is still there, shut off the backflow valve to your irrigation system. If then it stops moving or the circle is empty, the leak is somewhere in the irrigation system. Evaluate your irrigation system or contact your landscapers.
- If it is still moving or the plus-sign still appears, this indicates the leak is most likely underground between the shutoff valve and the water meter. A connection point likely exists about 3 feet beyond the meter on the property side. Start there to locate leaks in the main line. You may need to contact a handyman or plumber.
- After leaks have been repaired, check all valves for correct “on” positions.
Faucets. With so many types of faucets on the market, the best source of repair information for a specific product may be the manufacturer’s website. However, most faucets have a similar assembly with the same basic parts. Repair kits can be purchased at your local hardware store. The kit should include a special adjusting ring wrench, seals, springs and O-rings. Also, washer assortment kits may be more cost-effective than buying washers individually. Repairing faucet leaks is easy. All you have to do is turn off the water supply line to that faucet, replace the washer and turn on the line again. Search an online video if you like to DIY or contact a professional if you prefer.
Toilets. Your toilet can use more water than any other item in your home. A toilet leak can silently waste hundreds of gallons of water each day. Toilets are the only water-using appliance that we don’t turn on and off with each use and because toilets drain to the sewer system, you may not see it leaking. A small leak in your toilet may be wasting more than 100 gallons of water a day, and a toilet running fully can run several thousand gallons a day. To check for a leak put dye tablets (available at VVWD office) or food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the coloring begins to appear in the bowl, you have a leak. Replace the flapper valve, adjust or replace the flush valve, or call a handyman or plumber.
Water Softener. Most softeners have a bypass lever. Turn the lever to allow water to bypass the softener. Check the flow indicator at the water meter. If the flow indicator is no longer moving, you have isolated the leak to your softener. (You also can check for leaking swamp coolers, water-cooled air conditioners, ice machines and reverse-osmosis units by turning the bypass lever on each and checking the meter.)
Outside Taps. Check the outside taps for leaking water, particularly during the summer sprinkling season. A hose mistakenly left dribbling away in the grass or garden can waste thousands of gallons of water over the course of a summer. Remember to close outside faucets tightly every time you shut off the water!
Irrigation Systems. Turn off the valves to your irrigation and check the low flow indicator. If it has stopped moving, you may have a leak in your irrigation system. Check your valve box to see if there is any water pooling in or around the box. Walk your property to check for pools of water and look for bubbles under your turf where water may have gotten trapped. Check your irrigation system for cracked or broken parts. You may want to hire a landscaper to help with repairs.
Pools and spas. Turn off the automatic fill valve. Place a bucket on a step where the bucket rim is at least a few inches above the water line. Place a heavy weight in the bucket and add water until the water level inside the bucket is equal with the water in the pool. Leave the bucket in the pool undisturbed for several days, then compare the water level in the bucket to the water level in the pool. If the water level in the bucket is noticeably higher than the water level in the pool, you may have a leak in your pool. Contact a pool leak detection specialist for more help.
I have checked my toilet for leaks.
A leak in your toilet may be wasting more than 100 gallons of water a day. To check for a leak, put dye tablets (available at VVWD office) or food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the coloring begins to appear in the bowl, you have a leak. Replace the flapper valve, adjust or replace the flush valve, or call a handyman or plumber.
I never use my toilet as a wastebasket.
Every time you flush facial tissue or other small bits of trash down the toilet you waste 1.6 to 7 gallons of water, depending on the size and age of your toilet. Many older toilets use more water than necessary for an effective flush. By simply inserting a displacement device into your older toilet tank, you save up to a gallon or more per flush with no noticeable difference. Toilet dams, displacement bags and other flush-limiting gadgets are available at most hardware or plumbing supply stores and are easy and inexpensive to install.
I take shorter showers.
Long, hot showers waste 2.5 to 8 gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash and rinse, and save on your hot water heating costs, too.
I installed water-saving shower heads or flow-restrictors.
Two and one-half gallons per minute is sufficient for a refreshing shower. Your local hardware or plumbing supply store stocks inexpensive water-efficient shower heads you can install easily. A slightly more expensive head may provide a higher quality flow yet saves water.
I turn off the water after wetting my toothbrush.
After you have wet your toothbrush and filled a glass for rinsing your mouth, turn off the tap.
I rinse my razor in a partially filled sink.
Before shaving, partially fill the sink with warm water. This will rinse the blade just as well and use less water than letting the water run.
I have checked pipes and faucets for leaks.
Even the smallest drip from a worn washer can waste 50 gallons of water or more a day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons a day.
I use my automatic dishwasher and clothes washer for full loads only.
Older dishwashers may use up to 25 gallons of water for each load. Most newer model dishwashers use 4-6 gallons per load, so are more water efficient than washing by hand, but only when you wash a full load.
Older washing machines may use 30 to 35 gallons per load. Newer HE Energy Star machines use only 14-20 gallons per load, so look for the Energy Star Label when shopping for machines. You can limit the amount of water used by only washing full loads or by choosing the right water level for the load size.
If I wash dishes by hand, I don’t leave the water running for rinsing.
If you have a double sink, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have only one sink, gather all the washed dishes in the dish rack, then rinse them in a sink of clean water or with an inexpensive spray device.
I keep drinking water in the refrigerator.
This ends the wasteful practice of running tap water, and ensures you have a cool drink in the summer when our water runs warm.
I have water-efficient landscaping
Here in the high desert, lawns and other plants need deep, strong roots to tolerate our hot, dry summers and recurring droughts. Did you know that residents use up to 90 percent of their drinking water to irrigate landscapes in the summer? By making a few adjustments in the way we use water, you can easily help to preserve this precious resource.
Avoid over watering. Many residents overwater their yards by up to 50% Most plants and even grasses do not need to be watered every day. 3-4 times per week, even during the summer is usually sufficient. By watering deeper and less often, you’ll actually encourage stronger root systems and keep your water bill down. Inspect sprinklers to ensure the sprinkler heads aren’t broken or twisted and that they are watering only what is meant to be watered.
Water in three short cycles of about four minutes each spaced about an hour apart, rather than one twelve-minute dousing to discourage water run-off and encourage infiltration.
Set your lawn mower height to three inches to allow grass to develop a deeper, more protected root system and don’t forget to aerate in the spring & fall.
Consider replacing or reducing nonfunctional turf with shrubs, groundcovers, mulch, or other water-efficient plants that can be watered with a drip system. Many native plants require little to no water once established. (See our list of Native and drought tolerant plants in our Water Conservation Plan.) Replace cool season grass (such as tall fescue or rye) with warm season grasses (such as bermuda and zoysia). Avoid the use of narrow strips of lawn, grass in curving areas, or grass on hills.
I use a broom or blower to clean driveways, sidewalks and steps.
Using a hose to push around leaves and debris can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
I don’t let water flow down the driveway while washing my car.
Using a pail of soapy water is the best way to wash the car. Use a hose with an on/off control device to wet it and rinse it off. In the 15 minutes (or more) it takes to wash the car, you could save over 150 gallons of water. Try to limit the water you use to less than 10 gallons per vehicle. Or even better, only wash vehicles at a commercial facility, which recycles the water it uses.
I water during the cool parts of the day during the summer months, avoiding between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Try not to water during the heat of the day. Water your landscape during cooler times of the day, such as early morning when it’s also less windy. During the winter, if you need to water, do it later in the day to avoid the chance of freezing.
I don’t water when it’s windy or raining.
Avoid watering on windy days when much of your water will be carried off before it even hits the ground. Wind is much more wasteful to irrigation water than extreme heat. When it’s raining, there’s no need to water, so turn off those sprinklers. Mother Nature is doing it for you.
I don’t allow water to fill the gutter.
Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden – not on concrete or pavement where it does no good. If you see water waste, please report it.
I check monthly for leaks in outside pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings.
Leaks outside the house may not seem as unbearable since they don’t damage the floor or drive you crazy at night, but they can be just as wasteful. Look for signs of an irrigation leak, including pooling water or bubbles in your grass.
I use a spray nozzle with a shut-off handle on my hose.
Many people don’t realize that water can flow from a hose at the rate of over 10 gallons per minute. If you are careless for just a few minutes, the water waste can add up really fast.
I check or readjust my automatic sprinkler timer at least once a month during the watering season.
Don’t set it and forget it, because you’ll end up watering when you don’t need to. The timer should be adjusted at least monthly to reflect changes in temperature. Consider replacing outdated irrigation clocks with new models that water more efficiently and are easier to program. Many even offer smartphone apps, so you can manage your clock from anywhere, and they will automatically adjust to temperature changes and rain! Check batteries in timers twice a year to avoid issues from power outages.
I use water for comfort and enjoyment only when it’s intentional
Turn off residential fountains and ornamental water features and mister systems during the heat of the day or only use them when you are around to enjoy them. Children love to play in water on hot summer days. On your regular watering days, let them run through the sprinklers or use a “slip and slide” type of toy. On your non-watering days, children might play in a wading pool. Teach your children to turn the water off after filling the pool. And, when they are finished, reuse the water for washing the car, bathing the dog or watering trees and shrubs.
Water is a scarce commodity in the Virgin River watershed and Nevada is particularly short on this natural resource. Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility and is an ‘everyday’ way of life in the High Desert Country. Common sense is usually the best rule to follow. The water that is used carelessly is depriving someone else of this valuable resource. Water is not only vital for human habitation but also for the wildlife in our area. They too should be considered in any water conservation plan.
It is the intent of this Water Conservation Plan to insure an adequate supply of water to each homeowner within the Virgin Valley Water District with sufficient water to meet the needs of domestic demand; for the enjoyment of well-groomed landscaping and to allow adequate water resources for the Virgin Valley desert fauna and flora.
This Water Conservation Plan was originally prepared in compliance with the provision of NRS 540.141 and is hereby revised per NAC 540.13 1.4(c). It is intended that the plan be enforced at all times, whether under drought conditions or during years of sufficient precipitation.