It’s easy to be water wise

Water can be easily saved at home — in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, said Lilian Mezquida, AgriLife extension agent.

be water wise with water tanksBut the first step is to make sure the home’s plumbing doesn’t have leaks.

“Dripping faucets that are leaking at a rate of one drop per second can waste 2,700 gallons of water per year,” the AgriLife website says.

A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons per day.

Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes.

In the kitchen, cut down on the number of utensils used in food preparation to save on dishwashing water. Also, wash only full loads of dishes in the dishwasher.

Another tip is that when washing by hand, use one pan of soapy water for washing and a second pan of hot water for rinsing.

In the bathroom, ways of conserving water such as installing modern faucets and low-flow toilets were outlined by Mezquida.

People whose homes have old plumbing fixtures can also make improvements, she said.

Special plastic bags are now sold at home improvement stores to take up space in toilet tanks, rather than bricks or water-filled milk jugs as recommended in the past, she said.

Bricks crumble and ruin plumbing and concerns about pollution from certain plastics rule out old solutions for water waste from toilet flushing, she said.

In the laundry room, remember to wait until you have a full load, or use a lower water level setting.

“These are local people who will hopefully implement the ideas and instruction that they receive today, as we continue to share the importance of water conservation and the shortage of water that we will continue to have going forward as Texans,” Texas A&M Associate Professor John Smith said.

“We will continue to seek innovative solutions to meet that challenge.”

Texans must change their attitude about having lush lawns with plenty of shrubs and instead use native plants, decorative rocks and gravel to reduce high water use for lawn watering, Smith said.

The population of Texas is expected to double in the next 60 years, while the amount of usable fresh water will drop 18 percent during that period, Smith said.

At the same time, water demand in Texas is projected to increase by 22 percent.

Future generations of Texans will have much different lifestyles, he said.

When the rains finally do return, the experts have more advice.

“Water harvesting” dominated Smith’s presentation, showing how to construct rain barrels or install factory made barrels or rain water tanks.

Rain water harvested from roofs and other sources should only be used for lawns and plants, except it can be used for pets and livestock, Smith said.

Some people install filtration and chlorination systems to purify stored rain water, but that should only be done with expert advice and assistance, he said.

Information can be obtained from websites maintained by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Smith said.

Although many people grew up drinking untreated water from a rain barrel/rainwater tank or well, the chance of being harmed by bacteria or high levels of salt are real, so expert advice should be sought before installing equipment to produce safe drinking water, he said.

“We give out information about what items for us to buy for our house,” Mezquida said. “Information is available on websites to make it easy to find items needed by homeowners to increase water conservation.”

Smith presented the “40 Gallon Challenge,” a quiz that results in each household making a water conservation pledge to save at least 40 gallons a day.

Source: Valley Morning Star (By Allen Essex)

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