Saving water is probably the last thing on your mind after all the rain we had in May and early June, but water conservation should always be on your mind here in San Antonio (and across South Texas). As the summer months heat up and our water use increases, it’s easy to forget the drought conditions we’ve dealt with the past few years and how they impact everything around us. We turned to SAWS for some helpful tips on how to keep your water usage low and help conserve one of our most precious resources. While the aquifer is running at high capacity, we tend to forget just how quickly that water gets used up and we find ourselves facing water restrictions once again.
Saving Water in the Home
There are many simple things you can do to save water in your home. Some of them may seem difficult at first, but if you make them a regular habit, you’ll soon find yourself wondering why you never did them in the first place.
- Take shorter showers and always choose a shower over a bath. If you do take a bath, use 1-2 inches less water than you would normally. Tiny changes like this can have a huge impact.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You’re not using that water and it’s just heading straight down the drain.
- Same thing with washing your hands or shaving. If you’re not actively using the water coming from the tap, it’s just being wasted.
- Check your toilet for leaks. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and look to see if the color appears in the bowl. If you see the colored water, you may have a slow leak at the flapper. While it may seem like just a small leak, that’s a 24 hour a day water loss that adds up.
- Install dual flush toilets, faucet aerators, and low flow shower heads. Most of these devices won’t change the way you feel the water much and can save a lot over time.
- Don’t use hot water when cold water will do. Water heaters are terribly inefficient systems and by using hot water, you’re not only using more water than necessary, but also consuming more energy than needed.
Saving Water Outside the Home
We all love lush landscaping and a green perfect lawn. It’s part of the American dream of homeownership. Maintaining those plants and your lawn can use a lot of water, but with a little forward thinking you can have a beautiful yard and save water.
- Water only when needed. Sure, this sounds pretty basic, but many people overwater, which is not just bad for saving water, but can actually bad for your lawn. Damp can attract insects that feed on your lawn as well as encourage mold and other destructive plant life. Learn what kind of grass you have and understand its needs and requirements.
- Use timers and rain shut off devices for your sprinklers. Check your systems often to make sure they are watering at the correct times and cycles. Adjust the times as the seasons and daylight hours change.
- Avoid sprinklers that spray fine mist – this can lead to quicker evaporation.
- Use drip irrigation systems to water plants and landscaping. If you use soaker hoses or other drip systems, turn them so that the holes face downward – this helps prevent evaporation from being directly exposed to the air and sun.
- Water your lawn in the early hours. As the day heats up, water evaporates quicker so you use more for the same effect. Avoid watering late at night as the water that sits on the grass in the cooler hours can lead to several lawn diseases and encourage mold growth.
- Consider xeriscpaing. Designing your landscaping for water conservation doesn’t have to mean you just plant a lot of cacti. There are many plants native to our region that are drought tolerant and beautiful as well. Consider eliminating some of the grassy lawn area and turning it into gardens of hardy plants that will provide a interesting look to your home as well as assist you in saving water. Most xeriscaping also requires less maintenance, so you’ll save hours of time as well – put those hours to good use and enjoy your home instead of slaving away on the weekend to maintain the perfectly manicured lawn.
- Install rain water catchment systems and use “grey” water to maintain your lawn. Once something reserved for guys like Ed Begley, Jr., rain water catchment systems have become increasing popular and we’ve even caught a few buyers getting excited over buying a home with an existing system. Make the best use of the water that falls from the sky and do you part in conserving what we draw from the ground.
You can learn a lot more about water conservation as it relates to our city from the conservation section at the SAWS website, including updated information about watering restrictions, more ideas to conserve water, and various programs and rebates for saving water.
image courtesy of gunaxi