It looks like Austin and central Texas will have another dry summer and with that in mind it is time to think about conserving water. Our water supply comes from lakes in the Colorado River basin and local aquifers. Lakes Travis and Buchanan are at close to 40% of capacity and are going down daily. With steady population growth the demand for water continues to increase. With available supply decreasing, we all need to find ways to cut back on water consumption. So what should we do?
1. Take short showers, not baths. Filling a bathtub uses a lot more water than a shower. A short shower uses less water than a long one. Also, reduce the rate of flow when you shower.
2. Do laundry only when you have full loads. This should be self explanatory.
3. Similar to #2, run the dishwasher only when you have full loads.
4. Do not let the water run when brushing your teeth.
5. Men, when shaving keep water in the sink to rinse the razor rather than running the water.
6. Use a sprayer when washing your car rather than letting a hose run. You can control water usage by spraying when wetting and rinsing your car.
7. After mowing your lawn, use a broom or blower rather than the hose to clear your driveway and sidewalk.
8. Hand water your plants rather than using a sprinkler. This cuts down on evaporation and concentrates water where the plants really need it.
9. Water your lawn in the early morning hours before the sun comes up. It will already be wet with dew and the rate of evaporation will be low. Also avoid watering when it is windy to ensure that the water remains where you want it. Make sure you deep soak the lawn. This encourages deeper root growth and causes the grass to require less water.
10. Make sure you have adequate mulch around your plants. This will reduce evaporation after watering and will require less watering.
11. Use native plants in your landscape. They generally require less water than many plants imported from elsewhere.
12. If you have a lawn, plant a grass that requires the least amount of water. Also, keep it mowed at the height recommended by a nursery.
13. Check for leaks in toilets, faucets and pipes for leaks. A good way to do this is to read the water meter every 2 hours when not running any water. If it moves, you have leaks.
14. Install low-flow shower heads, faucets and toilets.
15. Insulate all visible pipes. This way you will not have to run as much water to get it hot or cold enough.
16. OK, the post title was for 15 ways to conserve water, but this is a bonus for people who have room for this. If you have a tile or metal roof, install a rainfall capturing system. I know I said we are likely to have a dry summer, but if you can capture and store 2,500 or more gallons of water when it does rain, that can go a long way towards your water use for landscaping or car washing.