Why Conserve Water? Why Not?

There are lots of good reasons to learn to use our water resources more efficiently. In Texas, our conventional fresh-water supplies are already 75 to 80 percent developed, so it is just common sense that we put water conservation and reuse measures into effect – not only to preserve and extend limited water supplies, but to save some real money, too.

Water customers have a lot to gain by using water wisely. Consider, for example, that if everyone cut back just 10 to 15 percent in personal water use, we could save billions of dollars over the next 50 years. The effort to conserve water requires us to change some wasteful habits, and it must begin now. Some steps are simple: don’t leave the water running in the sink, for example, while you put toothpaste on your toothbrush and scrub your teeth. Turn it on for rinsing only. Others, like landscaping modifications, can take more time, thought and resources to accomplish. But, everyone can participate by using water wiser in some way.

Here are some ways to save both water and money at home:

  • For an investment of $10 to $20, homeowners can install low-flow shower heads, place dams or bottles in the toilet tank, install low-flow aerators on the faucets, and repair dripping faucets and leaking toilets. This could save the average household 10,000 to 25,000 gallons each year for a family of four, and would pay for itself in less than a year! Even more savings can be realized if good outdoor water conservation is practiced for the lawn and garden.
  • When building a new home or remodeling a bathroom, install a new low-volume flush toilet that uses only 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • Test toilets for leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the toilet tank, but do not flush the toilet. Watch to see if the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes. It if does, the toilet has a silent leak that needs to be repaired.
  • Use some type of toilet tank displacement device to reduce the volume of water in the tank, but still provide enough for flushing. (Bricks are NOT recommended because they eventually crumble and could damage the working mechanisms.) Displacement devices are not recommended with new low-volume flush toilets.
  • Do not use hot water when cold water will do. Period.

In the Kitchen

  • Scrape the dishes clean instead of rinsing them before placing them in the dishwasher.
  • Fill a pan of water — or put a stopper in the sink — for washing and rinsing pots, pans, dishes, and cooking implements rather than turning on the water faucet each time a rinse is needed.
  • Never run the dishwasher without a full load. This will save water, energy, detergent and money. Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator. Running water from the tap until it is cool enough to drink is wasteful.
  • Use a small pan of cold water when cleaning vegetables rather than letting the water run over them.
  • Use less water for cooking. Not only does it save water, but also food is more nutritious when the vitamins and minerals are not “boiled” out of them and poured down the sink with the extra water.
  • Always keep water conservation in mind. Avoid doing wasteful things like making a huge pot of coffee if you’re only going to drink one or two cups, or even throwing away a glass full of ice after it cooled a few swallows of water. These things may not seem like much, but they add up over time.

In the Laundry

  • Did you know that 32 to 59 gallons of water are required for each washing machine load?
  • Wash only full loads of clothes when using your washing machine.
  • Use the lowest possible water level setting on the washing machine.
  • Use cold water whenever possible. This saves energy, too, and conserves the hot water for other uses. This is also better for most of today’s fabrics.

Appliances and Plumbing

  • When purchasing new appliances, check the water requirements of various models and brands. Some use less water than others.
  • Check water line connections and faucets for leaks. A slow drip can waste as much as 170 gallons of water EACH DAY, or 5,000 gallons a month. This will increase your water bill.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly. It is easy to do, it costs very little and can make a substantial savings in your water bills.
  • Make sure that the line from the water meter to your house is free of leaks. To check, turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and water-using appliances. The water meter should be read at 10 to 20 minute intervals. If it continues to run or turn, a leak probably exists and needs to be located.
  • Insulate all hot water pipes to reduce the delays (and wasted water) experienced while waiting for the water to heat up.
  • Set the thermostat on the hot water heater at a reasonable level. Extremely hot settings waste water (because it takes some extra cold water to make it usable) and energy and can even cause minor burns.

Outdoor Use

  • Water only when needed and do not over-water. Soil can absorb only so much moisture, and the rest will simply run off. A timer can help. In the summer months, one and a half inches of water applied once a week will keep most Texas grasses alive and healthy.
  • The best time to water lawns is in the morning during the hot summer months. Otherwise, much of the water can simply evaporate between the sprinkler and the lawn.
  • Use a sprinkler that throws large drops of water — rather than a fine mist — to avoid evaporation. Sprinklers that send the water out on a low angle also help control evaporation.
    Set automatic sprinkler systems to provide thorough, but infrequent, watering. Rain shut-off devices can prevent watering in the rain.
  • Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees or shrubs, or turn soaker hoses upside-down so the holes are on the bottom. This will help avoid evaporation.
  • Don’t water the streets, driveways or sidewalks…they will never grow a thing!
  • Condition the soil with mulch or compost before planting grass or flower beds so the water will sink in rather than run off.
  • Do not “scalp” lawns when mowing during hot weather. Taller grass holds moisture better.
  • Use a watering can or hand water with a hose in small areas of the lawn that need extra attention, and for small flower beds along walks and driveways. Hanging baskets can sometimes be watered more efficiently by taking them down and placing them in the path of a sprinkler instead of running water through the hose.
  • Don’t “sweep” walks and decks with water. Use a broom or rake instead.
  • Consider using water-wise plants. Learn what types of grass, shrubbery, and bedding plants do best in our community. Chose plants that have low water needs, are drought-tolerant, and are adapted to the area in which they will be planted.

Water Conservation is making the most efficient use of our state’s precious water resources.


Article reprinted with permission from SaveWaterTexas.com

Backflow Prevention Devices Help Safeguard the Water Supply

When water flows backwards through the water supply system, it is called backsiphonage or backflow. When that water is accidentally mixed with hazardous chemicals or bacteria, it can be dangerous…even fatal!

The danger could come from improperly installed pools and sprinkler systems. In many districts, homeowners are required to have their water district inspect a new pool or sprinkler system to help prevent this problem. (Check with your district about specific rules and regulations governing pools, spas, and irrigation systems.)

Another potential danger to the water system comes from a surprising source. Did you know that a common garden hose could contaminate the water supply if it is connected to a harmful substance and the pressure in the water main line drops while your hose is submerged in polluted or contaminated water? The water (and whatever is in it) could be sucked back into your pipes and your drinking water supply.

Water pressure drops can happen when firefighters battle a nearby blaze or when repairs are made due to a broken water line. This contamination could come from the chemicals used to fertilize and kill weeds on your lawn. The cleansers used in your kitchen and bathroom could be hazardous if swallowed, as could bacteria in the water from your pool or waterbed.

Fortunately, keeping your water safe from these contaminants is not that difficult to do. Take the following precautions to protect your drinking water:

  • Buy and install inexpensive backflow prevention devices for all threaded faucets around your home. They are usually available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
  • If you install a pool or sprinkler system, have a representative from your water district inspect the device for proper installation, whether this is required or not.
  • Never submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs or sinks.
  • Always keep the end of the hose clear of possible contaminants.
  • Do not use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device. The chemicals used on your lawn are toxic and can be fatal if ingested.

Article reprinted with permission from SaveWaterTexas.com

Are There Water Wasters At Your House?

When everything is quiet at your house, do you ever hear what sounds like water running? Do family members leave the water running while they brush their teeth or do the dishes? Does anyone regularly take 15 minute or half hour showers?

If you answer “yes” to these questions, it’s not just water that is going down the drain at your house…you’re probably wasting money, as well.

While we are fortunate not to have acute water shortages in our area, efficient use of our water resources offers major environmental, public health, and economic benefits, and enables us to meet the needs of existing and future residents.

The key to efficient use of any of our natural resources is old-fashioned common sense. Instead of taking our water supplies for granted, think about how much water your family uses every day, and actively look for ways to use it more efficiently. That means fixing leaky faucets as well as taking shorter showers!

Efficiency Programs Across the Country

Efforts to promote the more efficient use of water are underway at regional, state and national levels designed to prevent pollution and reduce demands on the nation’s water and energy infrastructure.

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-term efforts, the agency has created WAVE — Water Alliances for Voluntary Efficiency — a non-regulatory water-efficiency partnership to encourage communities, businesses, and institutions to reduce water consumption.

The EPA points out that the lodging industry alone could save 32 billion gallons annually — that’s enough water to supply 250,000 average-sized households. The related energy savings could reach one trillion btu’s per year!

Efficiency Begins At Home

Let’s face it…America uses more water per person than any other country on earth. We have the luxury to drink it, bathe in it, and turn it on almost any time we want.

We live in a water-intensive economy. Did you know that you can refill an 8 oz. glass of water approximately 15,000 times for what it would cost you to buy a six-pack of soft drinks? It takes 36,000 gallons of water to produce one automobile — enough water for a family of four to bathe, brush their teeth, and wash clothes for more than nine months. And, a one-year supply of food for one person requires more than 1.5 million gallons of pure water to produce!

About 6.8 billion gallons of water each day are used in this country just to flush toilets. One leaky toilet can waste more than 20,000 gallons of water a year. Experts suggest that one in every five toilets leak.

When a toilet leaks, the clean water in the tank slowly seeps into the bowl. Since the bowl water always must stay at the same level, clean water drains into the sewer pipes without ever having been used.

If you hear water “running” or you have to jiggle the handle after flushing, your toilet may have a tank leak. Here’s how to check.

Take the lid off the tank and flush the toilet. As the tank starts to fill up, drop a couple of drops of food coloring into the tank (not the toilet bowl). Wait about ten minutes and then check the toilet bowl. If any of the food coloring has found its way into the bowl, you have a tank leak. Don’t ignore the problem. Repairing the leak may not be too difficult, and do-it-yourselfers can get help and instructions from the local home improvement center.

How Much is Enough?

During the summer months, between 50 and 80 percent of the water used by households is used outside. to water grass and plants. Experts say that most lawns get twice the amount of water they need, and that an inch of water per week will keep a lawn green and healthy. If lawns and shrubs get a good soaking less frequently (instead of a sprinkling every day), their roots are encouraged to grow downward in search of water.

Another way to use water efficiently in landscaping, is to select ground coverings and plants that are native to our area. They are used to the heat and require little water or maintenance to stay healthy.

Learn to use water more efficiently. Use your head instead of your garden hose!

Article reprinted with permission from SaveWaterTexas.com

Heroes in Action: Sheriff’s Office Commends 2 Deputies

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Commendation

On February 26, 2015, Deputy Huey Townley and Deputy Pete Smith responded to an In Progress Aggravated Assault. The deputies were advised that a female was beating and stabbing a small child. Due to the deputies being assigned to the Harris County Municipal Utility District 102 they were in close proximity and had a response time to the scene of less than one minute.

Upon the deputies arrival they observed a female assaulting a small child. They attempted to pull the woman off the child, but she resisted. Deputy Townley forcibly removed the woman and both deputies
detained her.

Deputy Smith and Deputy Townley then focused their efforts on the child. The child had life threatening injuries to include severe blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds. The child was unresponsive
but breathing and deputies began lifesaving first aid. Deputy Smith applied pressure to the child’s wounds while Deputy Townley assisted and directed efforts for the response of a life flight helicopter. The actions of Deputy Smith and Deputy Townley are a positive reflection on the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and all first responders.