If you want to live in the southwestern United States, you need to know about water conservation. There just isnít that much rainfall or snowfall in much of the southwest. The few rivers and streams that exist are already heavily tapped for irrigation and city water needs. The southern-most states of Arizona and New Mexico, plus the desert state of Nevada, are especially vulnerable to drought. Water conservation can be divided into indoor and outdoor water use, and this article concentrates on indoor use.
- Install low-flow toilets and faucets throughout your house. This will make you eligible for a rebate or some other financial reward from your cityís public utilities office. Check your city government website for details. A low-flow toilet saves you two to five gallons of water over a regular toilet when you flush. A low-flow showerhead saves you eight to ten gallons of water per minute. You might be able to reduce your shower water runoff to two gallons or less.
- Adapt a regular toilet by putting a water-displacement object into your toilet tank to trick the automatic refill mechanism into only topping up the tank partially with new water. Fill an empty one-liter soda bottle with water and tighten down the cap. Place it in your toilet tank. Now it will take much less new water to push your float to the top and turn off the inflow valve. Donít use a brick because this leads to crumbling and debris in your tank.
- Donít flush your toilet to dispose of things like crumpled tissues or smashed bugs that could be tossed in the wastebasket instead.
- Install an energy-efficient water heating system so you donít have to run the water to heat it up. Even just wrapping your water tank with insulation can help. Check the gaskets in your faucets. You should have no leaks or drips.
- If you ever have to run the faucet to heat water or cool water, catch the water in a bucket. This is clean, fresh water and can be used for hand-washing, cleaning, or to refill your petís water dish. Dump your petís old water on your houseplants.
- Shower rather than take baths. Keep your shower to five minutes or less. Turn off the water when youíre shampooing or soaping up and turn it back on for a quick rinse.
- At the bathroom sink when youíre brushing your teeth or shaving, turn off the water unless youíre rinsing, then catch the runoff in a small basin and pour on your plants or garden. Soapy water doesnít bother plants.
- Switch to an electric razor so you can shave without water.
- Use a bucket or basin under your kitchen sink faucet to catch water whenever you use it Ė for example, hand-washing dishes or scrubbing fruits and vegetables. Use the fresh water for your petís bowl and the soapy water on your houseplants or garden.
- Keep a pitcher of ice water in the refrigerator for an instant cool drink so you donít get tempted to run the faucet to get the tap water cold.
- Never toss out a tray of ice cubes, but put them on the topsoil over your houseplants.
- Donít run your dishwasher until you have a full load. Each load uses about fifteen gallons of water.
- Donít run your clothes washing machine until you have a full load. Each load uses about thirty-five gallons of water.
- Your clothes washing machine has to empty its gray water somewhere from each load. Probably its hose leads to a sink or a drain. Instead, reroute the hose to a holding tank where the gray water can cool down. Then take the water to your garden. Don't route it directly from washing machine to garden or the boiling hot water will kill your plants.
- Donít use running water to defrost frozen food. Instead, let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight
- Get rid of the garbage disposal in your sink, which requires a lot of water to operate, and switch to composting in your backyard garden
- Check for water leaks inside your house by stopping all water use for two hours, reading your water meter at the beginning of this period, and checking it again at the end. There should be no change in water usage, but if there is, you have a leak.
- Finally, if you are feeling really deprived about having to ration your water, read Frank Herbertís science-fiction masterpiece Dune and count yourself lucky that youíre not like those characters, living in so harsh a desert environment that you have to wear a ďstillsuitĒ that recycles your body fluids into drinking water.
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