How Do You Conserve Water?

Every morning, both my kitchen and bathroom facets must run for a minute or so until warm water flows. I imagine that is true for most households. In my small home that adds up to at least 4 gallons per day – one gallon per sink and two gallons for the shower. Doesn’t sound like much, but when I did the math I was quite startled:

One Shower Per Day Households: Two 55-gallon drums per month, or 120 gallons, and twenty-six drums or 1,440 gallons per year.

Two Showers Per Day Households : Three 55-gallon drums per month, or 180 gallons, and thirty-nine 55 gallon drums or 2,160 gallons per year.

That is a lot of water to waste – especially since it was only used to access warmer water.

So I don’t let it run down the drain. I cache or store it in a pitcher or bucket for use throughout the day. I fill the kettle and cooking pots, rinse the tub down, flush the toilet, and water indoor plants and the yard near the front or back door … It sound like alot of fiddling around, but in truth these are all things we all do with water everyday – cook, clean, flush, water plants…

Yes, like many green practices this system does get some getting used to. Here are a few tips to help get you going:

Keep a nice pitcher near each sink and a small bucket in the the shower and tub.
If these containers are ugly, it increases the chances that your household will squawk. Really…
For toilet health, alternate flushing with pouring, always put the seat up before pouring and keep a rag handy for spills.

These practices drove my teen nuts until I did the math with her. Now, she participates with only an occasional grumble. I recently heard that her father, who lives in Oakland, has set up a drainpipe from the washer to his garden. How much water does your washer use per cycle? The rinse water is generally pretty clean.

Below are some tips from the State’s Save Our Water Website:

I particularly like the one about not using the toilet as a wastebasket! Also, I know that a shallow bath can often be as nice as a deep one.

Run the dishwasher only when its full, save 3 gallons
Take 5 minute showers instead of 10 minute showers, save 12.5 gallons
Fill bathtub halfway or less, save 12 gallons
Turn water off when brushing teeth, save 8 gallons
Don’t use toilet as a wastebasket, save 1.6-5 gallons
Reduce lawn watering to 1-2x/week, save 25 gallons for each day cut out
Adjust sprinklers to make sure lawn, not sidewalk, get water, save 12 gallons each time you water
Use broom, not hose, on driveway & sidewalks, save 13 gallons/minute
Wash cars with bucket and hose with a self-closing nozzle, save 13 gallons/minute

Any other examples or resources you can think of?



daily acts,, 707 789-9664

The daily acts slide show includes a slide of washing machine rinse water draining into a series of plant filled bathtubs that filtered the water and then sends it into the landscape. This attractive image, still residing in my memory a year later, prompted a visit their web site, I found a grey water system video, a series of water conservation related tours and a free workshop/tour City of Petaluma’s new Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility sat 6:30 on Sunday, September 27.

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center,,

Sonoma County Water Agency,

Our water agency has an array of water conservation programs and rebates and refers website visitors to state and federal websites to learn more about water conservation.

State of California, Save Our Water,

“Save Our Water is a statewide public education program designed to educate Californians on the state’s water challenges and encourage them to reduce the amount of water they use everyday. It is a joint effort by the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Department of Water Resources in response to severe water challenges facing the state. The program offers consumer-oriented information and tools for understanding of the long-term issues facing the state’s water system and practical tips for reducing water use indoors and outdoors.”

US EPA, WaterSense,

“WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, makes it easy for Americans to save water and protect the environment. Look for the WaterSense label to choose quality, water-efficient products. Many products are available, and don’t require a change in your lifestyle. Explore the links below to learn about WaterSense labeled products, saving water, and how businesses and organizations can partner with WaterSense.”