This is a list of ways you can help to conserve water in the home, yard and farm.
Agriculture uses an estimated 70% of the freshwater withdrawals globally and 40% of freshwater withdrawals in the United States. With severe droughts, shrinking reservoirs, and freshwater shortages in some areas of the US, water conservation is as important as ever for farmers. Here are sum water conservation ideas that can minimize water waste.
Phreatophytes are plants such as the Russian Olive, tamarisk, willows, and cottonwood. According to Colorado State University’s website: “phreatophytes can consume significant quantities of water through evapotranspiration, reducing the availability of water to a cropping system and its users.” These plants can be reduced or removed through a variety of methods including chemical or mechanical.
The program is complementing the existing and proposed water transfers with the neighboring Imperial Irrigation District and is the largest and longest water transfer of its kind in California history, providing up to 3.63 million-acre feet of water over the term of the program. An acre-foot of water is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the annual amount used by two typical families in and around their homes.
Scheduling irrigation based on soil-plant or atmosphere measurements can decrease water use while improving yields. Software programs can collect weather data including local temperature, rainfall, humidity, and crop evapotransporation to provide recommendations for optimal irrigation scheduling. The University of Minnesota provides an extensive guide on irrigation scheduling using the checkbook method.
Using laser-controlled land leveling equipment can ensure the fields are the ideal slope depending on the type of irrigation used. According to the Texas Water Development Board: “With sprinkler systems, a perfectly level field conserves water by reducing runoff, allowing uniform distribution of water. Furrow irrigation systems need a slight but uniform slope to use water most efficiently. Laser leveling can reduce water use by 20-30% and increase crop yields by 10-20%.”
ailwater return systems catch runoff at the low end of the field and pumps it back to the top of the field for reuse. This system may include ditches to collect the runoff, waterways to convey water to a central area, a reservoir, a pump, a power unit, and a pipeline. You can view a diagram of a tailwater return system here.
Water conservation comes naturally when everyone in the family is aware of its importance, and parents take the time to teach children some of the simple water-saving methods around the home which can make a big difference.
A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.
Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.
Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.
Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off. "Low-flow" means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute. You can easily install a ShowerStart showerhead, or add a ShowerStart converter to existing showerheads, which automatically pauses a running shower once it gets warm. Also, all household faucets should be fit with aerators. This single best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!
To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. Or, buy an inexpensive tank bank or float booster. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day.
Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A better suggestion would be to buy an adjustable toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their per flush use. Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that achieves a single good flush each time.
For new installations, consider buying "low flush" toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.
It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.
There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.
Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.
Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap recomend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings. With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 - 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.
In-sink 'garburators' require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.
If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water. Dual-swivel aerators are available to make this easier. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the dishes.
Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water.
Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle. If you are filling water bottles to bring along on outdoor hikes, consider buying a LifeStraw personal water filter which enables users to drink water safely from rivers or lakes or any available body of water.
If you are planting a new lawn, or overseeding an existing lawn, use drought-resistant grasses such as the new "Eco-Lawn". Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the principles of xeriscape for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard. Plant slopes with plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff. Group plants according to their watering needs.
Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 - 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.
Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas. Also, avoid watering on windy days.
A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting the grass grow taller (to 3") will also promote water retention in the soil. Most lawns only need about 1" of water each week. During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and the lawn will go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This may result in a brown summer lawn, but it saves a lot of water.
When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn - when it's full, you've watered about the right amount. Visit our natural lawn care page for more information.
Early morning is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering, and late watering, also reduce water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is also the best defence against slugs and other garden pests. Try not to water when it's windy - wind can blow sprinklers off target and speed evaporation.
Adding organic material to your soil will help increase its absorption and water retention. Areas which are already planted can be 'top dressed' with compost or organic matter. You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by: - the strategic placement of soaker hoses - installing a rain barrel water catchment system - installing a simple drip-irrigation system Avoid over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves. When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering.
Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing - this simple practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water. Better yet, use a waterless car washing system; there are several brands, such as EcoTouch, which are now on the market.
Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they're not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.