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Every little drop saved counts

A few smart tips for saving water and money this summer

Posted: May 22, 2009 2:51 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

With little rainfall and hot and dry summer months, the valley must carefully manage finite water supplies. So throughout the year, Castaic Lake Water Agency is asking all customers to rethink water consumption and to reduce water usage by 10 percent. Here are some easy ways you can conserve:

Pipes & hardware
Verify that your home is leak-free! Many homes have hidden water leaks. Here’s a way to check:
Turn off all faucets both inside and outside your home.

Look at your water meter (usually located in a ground vault somewhere near the front of your home).

If the dial is moving, you may have a leak. Make a note of the meter reading (the numbers on the dial).

Leaving all water turned off, read your water meter two hours later. If the meter shows a higher number, there is probably a leak somewhere in your yard or home.

Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year, which will add to the cost of water and sewer bills.

Consider installing an “instant” water heater on sinks that are located far from your main water heater so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce heating costs for your household. These units are sometimes referred to as “point of use” water heaters.

Check for toilet leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. CLWA or your local water supplier can provide you with a free toilet leak test kit.

Take shorter showers. Replace your shower head with an ultra-low-flow shower head. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs. CLWA provides free shower heads to Santa Clarita Valley residents at its annual Open House in May and at other community events or by calling (661) 513 1253.

Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the tub only one-third full.

Don’t let water run while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face.

Retrofit household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors. CLWA provides free aerators to Santa Clarita Valley residents at its annual Open House in May and at other community events or by calling (661) 513 1253.

Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.

When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Rinse in another basin filled with hot, clear water.

Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.

Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.

It’s easy to over-water your lawn! A good rain can eliminate the need for watering for as long as two weeks. If your grass springs back up after a step, it does not need to be watered.

Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speeds are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation.

Do you see water runoff from your yard each time you water? This could mean that the lawn needs aeration. When you aerate your lawn, you give the water somewhere to go besides down the storm drain.

Irrigation & sprinklers
Don’t water your street, driveway or sidewalk. Position sprinklers so that water lands on the lawn and shrubs, not paved areas.

Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Microsprinklers, drip irrigation, high efficiency nozzles and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.

Do a weekly check for broken or clogged sprinkler heads and replace them right away.  Make sure you are watering your yard and not the driveway or sidewalk. Broken or poorly adjusted sprinklers may go unnoticed since sprinklers are often set to operate during early morning hours.

Raise your lawn mower blade to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds in soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn.

Avoid over-fertilizing your lawn. The application of fertilizers increases the need for water especially in the summer months. Don’t fertilize monthly; instead, apply fertilizers which contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.

Mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching also helps to control weeds that compete with plants for water.

Plant drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. They require less watering and they usually will survive a dry period without any watering. Visit CLWA’s Conservatory Garden to see examples of water-efficient plants and irrigation methods.

Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas. Using a hose to clean a driveway can waste hundreds of gallons of water.

Outfit your hose with a nozzle that stops water flow completely when not actually using the water. Remember to turn off the water at the faucet when you are finished using the hose. CLWA provides free nozzles to Santa Clarita Valley residents at its annual Open House in
May and at other community events.

Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. Use a timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

Check all hoses, connectors and spigots regularly. Replace hose washers to eliminate leaks.

Car wash
Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. Ask at the car wash if they recycle water: often they will display a sign stating that they do.

If you wash your own car, use a bucket for the soapy water and a shut-off nozzle for your hose. CLWA provides free nozzles to Santa Clarita Valley residents at its annual Open House in May and at other community events.

General water-saving guidelines
Create an awareness of the need for water conservation among your children. Avoid the purchase of recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.

Be aware of, and follow all water conservation rules and restrictions that may be in effect in your area.

Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, errant sprinklers on public property, etc.) to your local water company.

Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed wastewater (recycled water) for irrigation uses.

Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water conservation among tourists and visitors to our state. Make sure your visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water conservation.

Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water conscious community. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards and by example. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don’t waste water just because someone else is footing the bill, such as when you are staying at a hotel.

Try to do one thing each day that will result in saving water.  Remember, every drop counts.  And every person can make a difference.

Encourage your school system to help develop and promote a water conservation ethic among children and adults.  CLWA offers a free School Education Program for Santa Clarita Valley students in Kindergarten through 12th Grade.  Not only can your child have fun, but he or she can learn about water and conservation while having fun. (Link to School Education Program page)

To get even more ideas for saving water around the home, please visit the “Virtual Home” Web site at



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