As a society, we have become more and more environmentally conscious and better informed about the effect our lifestyles can have on the world around us. At the same time, the demand for our most valuable natural resource—drinking water—continues to grow while local supplies can be threatened by drought conditions.
The pages we’ve listed in the navigation to your left will help you learn more about key water conservation issues.
Even though water covers so much of the earth’s surface, less than one percent is available for human consumption, and yet, according to the most up-to-date U.S. Geological Survey report, the United States uses 355 billion gallons a day.
We share in the benefits of some of the safest drinking water in the world, and it is incumbent on us all to protect this valuable natural resource for future generations. By making simple but thoughtful changes in our daily routines, we can feel confident that we are doing our part. Below are some tips to help you conserve water.
The following tips are directly from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
For every room in the house with plumbing:
- Repair leaky faucets, indoors and out.
- Consider replacing old equipment (like toilets, dishwashers and laundry machines).
- In the kitchen:
- When cooking, peel and clean vegetables in a large bowl of water instead of under running water.
- Fill your sink or basin when washing and rinsing dishes.
- Only run the dishwasher when it's full.
- When buying a dishwasher, select one with a "light-wash" option.
- Only use the garbage disposal when necessary (composting is a great alternative).
- Install faucet aerators.
- In the bathroom:
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Turn off the water to brush teeth, shave and soap up in the shower. Fill the sink to shave.
- Repair leaky toilets. Add 12 drops of food coloring into the tank, and if color appears in the bowl one hour later, your toilet is leaking.
- Install a toilet dam, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.
- Run full loads of laundry.
- When purchasing a new washing machine, buy a water saving model that can be adjusted to the load size.
The following tips are directly from EPA
- Maximize the use of natural vegetation and establish smaller lawns. For portions of your lot where a lawn and landscaping are desired, ask your local nursery for tips about plants and grasses with low water demand (such as creeping fescue). Consider planting more trees, shrubs, ground covers and less grass. Shrubs and ground covers provide greenery for much of the year and usually demand less water. Use native plants in flower beds. Native plants have adapted to rainfall conditions in New England and often provide good wildlife habitat. Cluster plants that require extra care together to minimize time and save water.
- When mowing your lawn, set the mower blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil improving moisture retention, has more leaf surface to take in sunlight, allowing it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system. This helps grass survive drought, tolerate insect damage and fend off disease.
- Only water the lawn when necessary. If you water your lawn and garden, only do it once a week, if rainfall isn't sufficient. Avoid watering on windy and hot days. Water the lawn and garden in the morning or late in the evening to maximize the amount of water which reaches the plant roots (otherwise most of the water will evaporate). Use soaker hoses to water gardens and flower beds. If sprinklers are used, take care to be sure they don't water walkways and buildings. When you water, put down no more than 1 inch (set out an empty cans to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch) each week. This watering pattern will encourage healthier, deep grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in the growth of shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought and foot traffic. If an automatic lawn irrigation system is used, be sure it has been properly installed, is programmed to deliver the appropriate amount and rate of water, and has rain shut-off capability.
- Apply mulch around shrubs and flower beds to reduce evaporation, promote plant growth and control weeds.
- Add compost or an organic matter to soil as necessary, to improve soil conditions and water retention.
- Collect rainfall for irrigation in a screened container (to prevent mosquito larvae growth).
- When washing a car, wet it quickly, then use a bucket of water to wash the car. Turn on the hose to final rinse (or let Mother Nature wash your car when it rains).
- Always use a broom to clean walkways, driveways, decks and porches, rather than hosing off these areas.
Xeriscape™ has been an increasing trend in landscape design over the last several years. It is when you combine water conservation practices with creative landscape design, you can create an attractive haven that's relatively hassle-free.
A properly designed and operated irrigation system can reduce water because grouping plants according to their watering needs saves a significant amount of water. By using shade, rethinking traditional grass lawns, taking advantage of natural runoff, planting in low irrigation areas and using mulch, your landscape can be transformed into a beautiful design that conserves water.
For more information on Xeriscape, contact your local water provider, landscape architect or garden shops.
is a voluntary public-private partnership program sponsored by EPA. The program makes it easy to find and select water-efficient products for your home, yard and business with a label backed by independent testing and certification.