Your water-delivery system
Effective water conservation requires awareness, involvement and education. To understand your water-delivery system, know the following information:
- The name and location of the company that provides your water, as well as contact information for the company's chief executive and public education/public relations officials.
- Who the water-policy decision-makers are in your municipality or area, how they are selected (elected or appointed) and the length of their terms of office.
- How water-use policies and rates are set and modified, including names and contact information for officials.
- When and where announcements of public water-policy meetings are published (newspapers) or posted (office and/ or web sites).
- The source(s) of water used within the system (e.g., lakes, streams, groundwater or aquifer) and how to track stability and quality of supply.
- The water supplier's long-term and short-term contingency plans to ensure availability.
- The rate structure for residential, commercial or industrial water use, with possible seasonal modifications. (Note: water-use bills may or may not include sewage-treatment fees, or they may be linked to potable water volume.)
- The location of the on-site water meter and how to read it and calculate the quantity of water used between readings.
Indoor water conservation
- Repair all water leaks immediately and be especially alert for leaks in toilets and faucets.
- Install and maintain ultra-flow toilets. Alternately, convert existing toilets to low-flow units with a tank dam or even bricks.
- Install and maintain flow restrictors (aerators) on faucets.
- Install and maintain low-flow showerheads.
- Limit showering time to 5 minutes.
- Do not use toilets as wastebaskets or ashtrays.
- Turn off water when shaving and brushing teeth.
- Scrape food off dishes without water prior to rinsing.
- Operate the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded.
- Operate the clothes washer only when it is loaded to maximum capacity.
- Rather than running the tap for cool drinking water, keep a filled container in the refrigerator.
- While waiting for running water to warm or cool for use on plants or in cleaning, capture flow for other uses.
Outdoor water conservation
- Cover pools, spas and other water features when not in use to minimize evaporation.
- Clean sidewalks, driveways and patios by sweeping rather than by spraying with a hose.
- Wash car(s) with a bucket of water rather than a running hose. If possible, drive your vehicle onto the lawn so that all of the water can be absorbed into the landscape.
- Restrict or eliminate use of hose-end water toys. If possible, combine use of water for play with landscape needs.
- Properly prune or trim trees, shrubs and other woody plants to maximize the plants' health and minimize invasion by pests.
- Frequently remove dead or dying plants and all weeds that compete for available water.
- Apply fertilizers or pesticides at minimal levels, timed to specific needs of the plants.
- Maintain sharp blades on pruning shears and lawn mowers.
- Cultivate planting beds periodically to decrease compaction and improve infiltration of water, air and nutrients into root zones.
- Mulch flower and garden areas as well as trees and shrubs.
- "Harvest" water from rainfall and snowmelt for landscape irrigation purposes.
- Use recycled or non-potable water to the greatest extent possible, as limited by supply and/or regulation.
- At least once a year, confirm that all irrigation systems are distributing water uniformly and inspect, repair and/or adjust in-ground or drip watering systems.
- Use water timers or flow meters for hose-end watering to ensure proper amounts are applied.
- Immediately shut off irrigation systems(s) and adjust whenever irrigation water falls onto or runs hard surfaces such as sidewalks, streets or driveways.
- Repair all water leaks as soon as detected this includes leaking hose couplings, hose bib leaks and similar connections.)
- When buying plants, select those that have scientifically documented low water requirements.
- Determine specific water requirements for all existing landscape plants.
- Adjust controllers for in-ground or drip watering systems according to seasonal needs of plants.
- Water landscape plants only when necessary according to needs of each plant type.
- Water early in the morning when temperatures and winds are at their lowest levels to reduce evaporation.
- Water all plants deeply but infrequently to encourage deeper healthier rooting.
Commercial Horticulture topics: