Water Conservation Information
Using water wisely helps protect our water supplies, especially during periods of drought, and conserving water cuts water and sewer bills and reduces water-heating costs. Using water efficiently also helps the Water Authority reduce costs and energy used to treat and pump both drinking water and wastewater.
The top ways to save:
- Fix leaks. Leaky toilets, pipes, hoses and faucets can account for almost 14% of home water use, and this water isn’t even used! Fix leaks immediately. To check for toilet leaks, place a few drops of food coloring, kool-aid, strong brewed coffee or cola in the tank of the toilet before you go to bed. Do not flush or use the toilet during the test. The next morning, if any of the color that you put in the tank shows up in the bowl you know that the toilet is leaking. Visit the Water Authority's page on leaks and high bills for more information on leaks and how to detect and fix them.
- If possible, replace old toilets. Toilet flushing accounts for more than a quarter of indoor water use. Toilets made before 1992 use between 5 and 7 gallons per flush. By installing 1.6-gallon flush toilets, a family of four can save 14,000 to 25,000 gallons of water per year. If replacing toilets is not possible, place a water-displacement bag (or a plastic bottle filled with water) in toilet tanks to reduce the amount of water needed to flush. Caution: Keep the bag or bottle away from the operating mechanism. And be sure not to displace too much water causing a need to double-flush. Double flushing will waste more than is saved. For all toilets, flush only when necessary; never use toilets as wastebaskets.
- Consider replacing old clothes washers with water- and energy-efficient washing machines. These new machines can use up to half as much water as older washers. Look at the costs and compare to long-term water savings. Some machines may pay for themselves over a five-year span by using less water. For all washing machines, wash only full loads and select the appropriate water level or load size.
More ways to save:
In the bathroom . . .
- Practice water-conservation landscaping. Traditional lawns may require up to 3 or 4 feet of water a year! Reducing lawn areas wherever possible saves water and reduces the amount of lawn herbicides and fertilizers that can run off with rain and pollute waterways. Consider landscaping with drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, grasses, groundcovers, and other perennials. Retain soil moisture by mulching plantings well. Use a rain gauge to measure rainfall and irrigation. Water plants only when they need it. Visit the Water Authority's water-conservation landscaping page for more information.
- Don't leave the faucet running while shaving or brushing teeth.
- Fill the bottom of the sink with enough water to rinse the razor rather than letting the water run. An electric razor saves a great deal of water.
- Take quick showers! Showerheads can flow up to five or more gallons per minute. Install a low-flow showerhead that flows at two gallons per minute or less. A showerhead with a "soap-up" shut off valve will help save even more.
- Save shower "warm-up" water for cleaning or watering plants.
- If you prefer baths, fill the tub no more than one-third full. Stop the drain before filling the tub.
- Install low-flow faucet aerators that flow at two gallons per minute or less. All faucet aerators reduce flow volume by mixing air with water.
In the kitchen . . .
- Check toilets for leaks by putting a little food coloring in the toilet tank. Wait at least 15 minutes; do not flush. If coloring appears in the bowl, the tank is leaking. To verify that you don't have a slow leak, it is best to let the food coloring or dye sit in the toilet tank overnight. To fix the leak, adjust or replace the flapper valve or call a plumber. A leaking toilet may waste more than 200 gallons of water a day.
- Use the automatic dishwasher only for full loads. If rinse water from the washer empties into a basin, collect the water for use in other cleaning projects.
- When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run for rinsing. Rinse dishes with a spray device or in a pan of clean water.
- To save on dishwashing, cut down on the number of utensils used to prepare and serve food.
- Instead of using water from the faucet, reuse dish water to rinse out recycable glass, cans or plastic containers.
- Install low-flow faucet aerators.
- Consider composting rather than using the garbage disposal. Instead of using fresh water to operate the garbage disposal, use soapy wash water or rinse water from a dish pan.
- To clean vegetables, use the sink or a bowl to retain water. Scrub with a vegetable brush and turn on water only for a quick rinse.
- Use steamers or cover food in a pan with a minimal amount of water. Use a tight lid to conserve moisture.
- Thaw frozen foods in advance in the refrigerator to eliminate thawing under warm water.
- Select the proper size of pans for cooking. Pans that are too large may waste cooking water.
- Take ice cube trays from the freezer a few minutes before they are needed. The ice cubes will loosen at room temperature without the need to run them under tap water.
In the laundry room, basement or utility room . . .
- Keep a container of water in the refrigerator raher than letting water run for a cold drink.
- Use the washing machine only for full loads of laundry. Always select the correct load setting or water level.
- Insulate pipes to get hot water faster, so less water is wasted.
- Use water from dehumidifiers to water plants or for cleaning.
Outside . . .
- Collect water from central air conditioning or window units to water plants or for cleaning.
- Use a broom, not a hose, to clean sidewalks and driveways.
- Use buckets for car washing, instead of a hose. Commercial car washes use water efficiently and many recycle water.
- Water your lawn only when needed. If the grass springs back up after stepping on it, it does not need watering. If it stays flat, then it needs watering.
- Minimize grass areas in your yard by using landscaped areas that need no water, such as bricks, rocks, or decks. Use plants that require less water than grass.
- Water before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m., when evaporation rates are lowest. Deep-soak your lawn, so that the water soaks down to the roots, and encourages deeper root growth.
- Set sprinklers to water only your lawn or garden, not sidewalks and streets. Do not leave sprinklers unattended for long periods. Use a kitchen timer to monitor how long sprinklers run and install a rain gauge to measure irrigation.
- Keep grass 1.5" to 2" long to develop deep root growth.
- Mulch to the dripline of trees and other plants whenever possible to retain soil moisture and to control weeds.
For more water conservation information, call the Water Authority's Environmental Communications Coordinator at 540-853-5707 or print this one page summary of water-saving tips.
For more helpful information, check out these links:
Cold Weather Plumbing Tips
Important Backflow Information
Locate Your Master Valve
How to read and use your water meter to check for leaks
The Western Virginia Water Authority has developed a Drought Contingency Plan to achieve water demand reductions during periods of drought or other extraordinary conditions. The three stages of water use restrictions in this plan, Voluntary Conservation, Mandatory Restrictions and Emergency Restrictions, will be triggered by the water level in the Carvins Cove reservoir during a particular month of the year.
- Use a swimming pool cover to reduce evaporation. Approximately 1,000 gallons of water evaporate from a swimming pool every month! Pool covers decrease evaporation by 90%.