Car washing:

Car washing uses a lot of water and in most instances, 99% of it runs into the storm drains.  If you think you have to wash your car, drive it onto your lawn and then wash it. Any soap you use won't hurt the grass, and the water will soak into your grass. (Yea, I hear you about it leaving tracks, but grass grows and when you mow it, the tracks will disappear.)

Swimming pools

Cover it when you aren't using it.  Evaporation can cost you up to 1000 gallons of water a month for a small pool. Clean the filter often and you won't have to change the water as frequently. When you do change the water, let it run onto the lawn, water trees, flowers and the shrubs.

Watering the yard

  • Please, just water the yard – not the sidewalks and the streets.  (I have real problems with city crews that water sidewalks and streets instead of the 'green' areas. That just lets thousands of gallons of water wash down city streets and into the gutters.
  • Let the grass grow a little higher between mowing and cut back or cut out the fertilizer. Fertilized grass takes more water.
  • If your city or town has water rationing, concentrate on the garden, shrubs and trees and let the grass go dormant.  It takes about 27,000 gallons of water a week to keep an acre of lawn nice and green. 
  • When I water the trees in my yard, I use the black soaker hose just along the tree trunks. It uses about 50% less water than a sprinkler.  The birds love the mist for bathing and since the cats don't like to get wet, they seem to leave the birds alone.
  • Use mulch around trees to hold water. You can use shredded leaves, pine needles, clean hay, straw or purchased mulch.

Water Tips for Inside the Home

Bathrooms and Laundry

The new models of shower heads 'low-flow' use about half the water of the older models. Take showers instead of baths, but limit the length of the showers.  One gentleman discovered his children were taking 45 minute showers, and when he cut their time down to 15 minutes, his found his water bill was hugely reduced! If you plug the drain, the gray water can be used for watering plants outdoors. The soap won't hurt the plants. Or, you can use it to flush the stool.  Use a bucket for this; do not pour the gray water into the tank as it could back-siphon into your water system…
Wash only full loads of clothes and only when they really need washing. Kids can change into play clothes after church or school and the good clothes can be hung up for an extra wearing. An automatic washer uses up to 30 gallons of water per load.

Turn off the running water while shaving or brushing your teeth.  An open faucet can run from 7 to 10 gallons of water a minute down the drain. It goes without saying that any leaking faucets should be corrected immediately.  Just one leaking faucet can waste 2,700 gallons of water a year, to say nothing of wasting the money in your wallet!

Check for hidden leaks in your toilets by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the water changes color within 30 minutes, you have a hidden leak and it needs to be fixed at once.  Flush the toilet after 30 minutes as the food coloring can stain the tank and the toilet bowl. A leaking toilet can waste upwards of 53,000 gallons of water a year!

If you have the 'old-fashioned' toilets that use up to 12 gallons of water per flush, try putting a one-quart or even a ½-gallon plastic milk jug full of water in your tank, saving water by using less per flush.  It's not a real good idea to use old bricks or stones as they can flake off and damage the workings.

Insulate your hot water pipes so you don't need to run so much cold water out to get warm water. Save any run-off in pitchers to water plants in the flower beds.                                                 

In the Kitchen

  • Wash produce in a bowl instead of under running water. Save the draining for watering outside.
  • Water from home canners and pressure cookers can be cooled and used outdoors to water trees, shrubs and flowers.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full, and if you must pre-rinse, plug the sink and rinse the whole batch instead of letting the water run down the drain.
  • Save money by using plastic water bottles that are refillable, and do it at home from your own faucet.  If you read the labels on most bottled water, it comes from a city water supply, and there is no 'cents' in paying $1.29 for a bottle of tap water. 

If you have other ideas on saving water, drop me a note or e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll get it in the next issue of the Farm And Livestock Directory. Water is expensive, and after all – it's YOUR MONEY!

 Note from Pennywise:
As always, if you have tips or ideas to share, send them to me at Pennywise, Box 518, Kadoka, SD 57543 or better yet, email me at [email protected]
P.S.: Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond!