Hot, dry weather has had Texas in its grip for weeks. Seeing your garden droop and your grass turn brown isn't easy. Fortunately, there is something we can do to help offset the negative side of drought – focus on water conservation.
It's been about eight years since the last really severe drought threatened our water supplies. And when drought isn't a daily topic, it's easy to get out of the habit of conserving.
But, water conservation is a vital part of ensuring we have enough of this vital resource to meet everyone's needs in the future.
Not only does conservation help secure water for future use, but it also can help the average family save more than $115 annually on water bills. When water conservation becomes a habit, it benefits everyone.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American families use more than 300 gallons of water per day at home, with roughly 70% of the use indoors.
What can everyone do to help?
Using water-efficient appliances in the home is a great idea. But since most people can't afford to replace every appliance with water savers, making small changes can make a tremendous difference.
For instance, more than half of all home water use occurs in the bathroom, according to the EPA.
How do we cut back?
Start by turning off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth.
Choose a shower over a bath. But when you do, keep an eye on the clock. Officials recommend five minutes or less per shower.
Next, place a plastic bag or bottle filled with water in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water per fill.
Other indoor water conservation tips include:
- Making sure the dishwasher is fully loaded before turning it on.
- Scraping plates instead of rinsing them before loading them into the dishwasher.
- No dishwasher? No problem. Make smart use of dual sinks. Instead of letting the water run while washing dishes, fill one sink with hot, soapy water for washing and the other with cool, clear water for rinsing.
- Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
- Designate one glass for your drinking water each day, or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
- If you accidentally drop ice cubes on the floor, don't throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
- Thaw food in the refrigerator overnight rather than running it under tap water.
- Use every drop of water. Capture water beneath a colander used to rinse fruits and veggies. Repurpose that water by using it to water plants or the lawn. Do the same while you wait for the water from the sink to get hot.
- Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
There are also ways to conserve water while outside.
- Avoid watering during the hottest periods of the day to prevent loss through evaporation.
- Sweep leaves and other debris off driveways and walkways instead of hosing them down.
- Find ways to save and store rainwater for use in the garden. Many cities offer rebates for rainwater harvest barrel use. Remember to cover your barrels to keep mosquitoes at bay.
- Have a pool? Use a pool cover. The cover can help reduce evaporation, reducing the number of times needed to refill the pool. The Department of Energy reports that a pool cover cuts the amount of replacement water needed by 30 to 50 percent.
- Look for drought-resistant plants that can live throughout the year. Texas native plants often rely on their water reserves and don't need to be directly watered as often as other species.
- Wash the dog with soap safe for plants and do it outside in an area of the lawn that needs water.
- Place mulch around the flowerbed and garden and under shrubs and trees. Mulch helps keep water from evaporating as quickly and ensures the water is getting down to the roots.
- While washing the car, use a bucket filled with soap and water and a sponge rather than running the hose the entire time.
For more information on how you can conserve water go to www.Brazos.org/Conservation