Water Conservation Tips

Turn Off That Light
When it comes to water and energy, in most cases, you can't have one without the other. Water is integral to the recovery of oil and gas, the processing of oil and in the creation of electricity. Yet, without electricity, it wouldn't be possible to pump, treat, move, heat, or recover more water. The processes are unendingly tied together. A study done by the U.S. Geological Survey says that 48% of all the water consumed in the U.S. goes to power plants. In California, the treatment, storage, and transportation of water accounts for nearly 20% of all electricity used in the state.

In Texas the average household uses 14,570 kWh of electricity each year. Depending on the method used to create the electricity, conventional power plants can use between 0.40 gallons per kWh and 0.60 gallons per kWh. A hydroelectric plant can lose up to 55 gallons per kWh to evaporation. The U.S. average is 2 gallons per kWh and in Texas, due to the high number of natural gas fired plants, the average amount of water used per kWh is low at only 0.43 gallons.

The average Texas home uses approximately 6,250 gallons of water annually without even opening the first tap or taking a single shower. A way we can conserve water outside of the usual "don't brush your teeth with the water running" is by simply turning off a light. A single 100 watt light bulb left on all day will use over half a gallon of water for the creation of electricity, over 227 gallons annually. You can save even more by replacing all of the old incandescent light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent lights (CFL). CFLs use nearly 75% less electricity as a standard incandescent light bulb and can be expected to last 8 years.

Another simple way to conserve is to turn off the TV when no one is watching it. A typical 42" LCD TV uses over 200 watts per hour and a 50" plasma TV can use over 350 watts per hour. If both of those TVs were to run 24-7 for one year, they would use over 625 gallons of water. By turning the TVs off you will not only save on your electric bill, but you will also be conserving significant amounts of water. The more electricity you save the more water you save.

By conserving electricity, not only will you reduce the amount of water and fuel used to create electricity but you will be lessening your "carbon footprint". By replacing one 60 watt incandescent light bulb with a 13 watt CFL you can save 470 kWh of electrical use, and if your electricity comes from a coal fired plant you will reduce the carbon dioxide expenditure by 730 pounds over the life of the CFL bulb.

Sometimes these numbers seem insignificant but when added up throughout your home and added to the over 120 million other homes in the U.S., these numbers get very large, very quickly. Save water, turn off that light!!!
Drip Irrigation
The Most Efficient Way To Water

Its that time again. Spring is here, summer is just around the corner, and that means more water being used outdoors. If this summer is anything like the last, we’ll all soon be spending many hours (and gallons) watering our lawns and gardens. One way to more efficiently provide the needed water is the use of a drip irrigation system.

Drip irrigation is a method of applying slow, steady, and precise amounts of water and nutrients to specific areas rather than broadcasting water. At a slow application rate, water seeps into the soil and moves laterally by capillary action beneath the soil’s surface. An adequate section of the root zone of the plant is maintained with moisture close to the soil capacity, providing a soil to water to plant relationship which is conducive to better plant growth.

Of all the irrigation methods in use, drip irrigation is by far the most efficient. Sprinklers broadcast water into the air where much of the water is lost to evaporation, never even reaching the plant. It is estimated that 25% of the water coming from a sprinkler head is lost to evaporation.

Benefits of drip irrigation include:

- Conservation of water. A drip irrigation system waters only the area around a plant’s root zone.
- The Texas Agricultural Extension Service notes that drip irrigation can reduce water loss in the garden by up to 60% over hand or sprinkler irrigation.
- Consistent moisture improves plant growth, and fertilizers can be added directly to the system.
- Drip irrigation systems are typically installed for considerably less cost than underground sprinkler systems.
- The amount of water applied can be varied to meet the specific needs of a particular plant.

When designing a drip irrigation system, prepare a sketch of your plant location and water source to determine the amount of tubing you will need, as well as the number of other parts, such as the emitters. There are several basic elements to any drip system. The head or valve assembly can consist of several components. First, it is recommended that you install a backflow prevention device, especially if you will be using the system to fertilize as well as water your plants. Next, depending on water pressure, your may need to install a pressure regulator. If the water pressure in your system is over 40 psi, using a pressure regulator will prevent the emitters and connectors from leaking or bursting apart. Typical pressure regulators reduce the water pressure to between 10 and 25 psi. Then, you will need to install a filter to screen out small particles. This will help keep the water lines and emitters from clogging.

Finally, install the tubing and emitters. The emitters will regulate the amount of water that drips from the system to the plants. Most garden vegetable plants need only a 1 to 1½ gallon per hour drip (1 to 1 ½ gallon head drip for 1 to 1½ hours) every other day.

Water wisely – every drop you save counts!
Winter Conservation TIps
Don't Let Cold Weather Catch You Unprepared! Although it doesn’t happen too often here in Southeast Texas, once or twice a year we experience a hard enough freeze to cause water pipes to burst. Not only is it an inconvenience, but a burst water pipe can waste thousands of gallons of water before you even realize it has happened. However, you can cross that off your list of winter worries by taking a few simple precautions to prevent waste and conserve water.

Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses. Detaching a hose allows water to drain from the faucet. Otherwise, a single, hard overnight freeze can burst either the faucet or the pipe it's connected to.

Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas. If you have pipes in an attic, unheated garage or cold crawl space under the house, wrap the water pipes before temperatures plummet. Hardware or building supply stores will have good pipe insulating materials available.

Consider using electrical “heat tape”. This tape runs a low voltage current along the length of the tape warming the pipe. It is very useful in attics and crawl spaces where an electrical outlet is readily accessible.

Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks. Winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes.

Don’t forget any water lines you may have running to the garden or livestock troughs. Be sure that these pipes get extra attention. Since we don't always pay attention to these pipes, it could be hours or days before you realize the pipe has burst. Inspect all your connections after any freeze.

Be sure to know the location of the master water shutoff. If a pipe bursts this valve turns it off, so find it now and be sure everyone in the family knows where it is and what it does. Also, it is a good idea to keep the plumber's telephone number handy. Write it down now before you need it in an emergency.

In severe cold weather, you may want to allow a faucet to drip a small continuous stream. Although this may seem to be wasting water, it is better to lose a few gallons per hour than hundreds of gallons per hour if the pipe bursts.

If you know where a freeze-up occurred and want to try thawing it yourself, do not under any circumstances use a torch with an open flame as this is a major fire hazard. Also, overheating a single spot can burst the pipe and heating a soldered joint could cause it to leak or come completely apart.

The easiest tool to use for thawing pipes is a hair dryer. Wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe, not concentrated on one spot. If you don't have a hair dryer, you can wrap the frozen section with rags or towels and pour hot water over them. It's messy, but it works.

Remember, taking steps to prevent pipe freezes saves you time, inconvenience, and money, and prevents waste of a precious resource – Water.
20 Ways to be Water Smart
20 Ways to be Water Smart
Outdoor Water Conservation Tips
Finally, spring has spring and summertime is on the way, and that means our water use is going to skyrocket. It is estimated that during the summer we use between two and four times as much water as we do the rest of the year. Overall, depending on where you live and how much watering you do, 30 — 70 percent of all the water we use at home is used outdoors. The best way to be sure you aren’t wasting water is to follow some simple guidelines. If you don’t, you may be wasting up to 50 percent of the water you are using outdoors due to inefficient watering methods and evaporation. Keep these tips in mind when you are using water outdoors:

Don’t water your lawn or garden at the wrong time of the day. During the hottest part of the day you can lose a significant amount of the water you are applying to evaporation.

Water the lawn only when it needs it. Most lawns only need one inch of water each week. Pay attention to the weather and keep a rain gauge in the yard to help you monitor how much water you are getting. If you are planting a new lawn consider drought tolerant varieties such as Buffalo grass, Bermuda grass, and some varieties of St. Augustine grass. These varieties will go dormant during a drought and recover well when the rains begin again.

One way to tell if your lawn needs water is to step on the grass and see if it springs back. If it does you needn’t worry about watering. Also, let the grass grow a little. By letting it grow longer it will shade the ground and roots and slow the evaporation rate.

In the garden, be sure to utilize mulch around your vegetable plants. A good layer of ground cover will allow the water to seep deeper into the soil and reduce loss due to evaporation.

Pools are very susceptible to evaporation, up to an inch and a half per day. It’s not uncommon to have to add 2,000 gallons a month to a pool due to evaporation. The use of a pool cover can reduce evaporation by as much as 90 percent.

Another way to conserve water and reduce your water bill is to install a rain collection system and/or a drip irrigation system. These two systems alone or in tandem can save you thousands of gallons of water from your water bill. Both of these options can be kept simple or made as high tech and complex as you would like.

There are a variety of ways to collect rainwater from the roof of your home or barn to use at a later date when you need it to water your ornamentals or your vegetables. The simplest way to get started with a rainwater collection system is to simply put a cleaned barrel that has a spigot located near or on the bottom of the barrel (if on the bottom barrel must be raised) under a gutter downspout. You will collect approximately 0.6 gallons of water per square foot of roof surface. Keep just one barrel near your flower bed and when it gets dry out, you’ll be ready to go.

With a drip irrigation system you will be able to apply a very specific amount of water to each plant individually when you water. You can purchase a basic all inclusive set-up at your local home improvement store for $50—$75. The starter kits typically come with a variety of components and between 50—100 feet of tubing to get you started.

Water wisely – every drop you save counts! Even though we seem very wet right now, remember just a few summers ago we experience a severe multi year drought. Develop good habits now to conserve water and it will be less painful when the next drought occurs.
Water Conservation Tips 2016
Using water, specifically groundwater (which provides 60 percent of the water used in Texas ), more efficiently will not only save money but, more importantly, will protect the quality of life of current and future Texans. With the vastness of Texas, it’s easy to forget two important facts about our state: 1) we are subject to frequent droughts and, 2) our population is projected to nearly double in the next 50 years. To ensure that we have enough water, we need to reduce the amount of water we waste. A few small changes in your water use habits can make a huge difference in water savings.

Using efficient showerheads and aerators on your faucets can significantly reduce the amount of water you use. In fact, installing an efficient showerhead is one of the most effective water saving steps you can take inside your house. Also, you can save a little more water by getting into the shower as soon as possible—don’t let the water run too long while warming it up.

When possible, update and replace old toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. New efficient models can save you thousands of gallons per year.

An older clothes washer will use up to 23 gallons per load, whereas a new energy efficient model may use as little as 13 gallons. Considering that the average household washes about 300 loads per year, the numbers add up quickly. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you wash with hot water, up to 90% of the cost to wash those close is simply for heating the water. Only use hot water when necessary so you’ll save on your electrical bill and reduce the impact on the water-energy nexus (a complex relationship between the production of electricity and water).

In the kitchen, a water efficient dishwasher can save over 1,000 gallons of water per year. Keep in mind, 1,000 gallons per home may not seem significant, but multiply that by a neighborhood and 1,000 gallons per home will add up to quite a lot. Newer machines have more effective water jets and sensors that will do a better job with less water. And for those tough dishes, let them soak in some water instead of trying to scrub them clean with running water.

Newer water efficient toilets will use only about 1—1.5 gallons of water per flush. And be sure that you keep aware for any leaks. A leaking toilet can waste quite a bit of water, possibly thousands of gallons a month in extreme cases. It is estimated that 10% of all homes in the U.S. have water leaks wasting 90+ gallons of water per day.

Outdoors, planting well adapted and/or native shrubs, trees, and grass is key to watering efficiently. Drought and heat tolerant species can survive cool winters and dry summers, saving not only water but your time and effort due to lower maintenance requirements.

Also, be sure that you water at the right time of day. It is estimated that watering during the hottest time of the day will waste 20% - 25% percent of the water due to evaporation. Prevent this by watering in the morning (before 11:00 a.m. is recommended). Also avoid watering on windy days as this will significantly increase the amount of water loss due to evaporation. Drip irrigation systems are a great way to water plants and shrubs efficiently with a minimal amount of water. Combined with proper bedding/mulching, this can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of gallons of water each summer and, if you add a timer to the system your plants will require less personal attention.

As for your lawn, taller grass holds moisture better. Refrain from cutting off more than 1/3 of its length at one time. During a drought many grasses will go dormant, so learn more about your grass and you may find that you do not need to water it at all.

One last note, for those of you who live in an area with a homeowner association, in 2013 the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 198. Homeowner association may require approval of any changes to landscaping, but S.B. 198 prohibits an association from restricting a property owner’s decision to make water-wise landscape choices.
Summertime Water Saving
Summertime Water Saving
Winter Conservation Tips
Winter Conservation Tips
How Not To Waste Water
How Not To Waste Water
Every Drop Counts
Every Drop Counts
Water Footprint - You're Using More Than You Think
Water Footprint
Drought Preparedness - Conserve Now Before You Have To
Water Footprint
Plan Ahead: Conserve Water - Reduce Summertime Waste
Plan Ahead

Texas Water Development Board