much water do you use in a day? A gallon? Ten
gallons? Few people know how much they use. The
amount is likely to be as much as 60 gallons per
person per day. This figure has tripled since 1900!
Imagine what it would be like to turn on the tap and
find nothing there. People in some parts of the
country know this can happen. They are learning how
to conserve water. They know that water is a limited
water shortages are a local or regional problem.
Someday they may be a national problem. It is wise
to learn now how to conserve nature's precious
supply of fresh water.
Water Management Checklist is designed to help you
see how effectively you are using water, and to
alert you to ways to save it.
Water is something most people take for granted,
whether it's for bathing, dishwashing, laundry
or brushing teeth. But water is a necessary
resource that may at times be limited.
One of the best ways of wasting water is a leaky
faucet, which at a rate of only one drop per
second, adds up to nearly 2,500 gallons per
year. That's enough water for 160 full cycles in
an automatic dishwasher.
save water and dollars use water wisely. Don't
let the water run continuously while shaving or
rinsing dishes. Instead close the drain or fill
a pan with water for rinsing. And take quick
showers instead of baths, since full bath tubs
can use up to twice as much water.
For more information on managing your water
wisely, contact your local county Agricultural
you read this list, check the steps you have
already taken to conserve water. Note what you
still need to do to become a better manager of
Install low-volume flow control devices on
shower heads and tub faucets.
Limit the amount of shower or tub water by
the way you use hot and cold water faucets.
Cut off all water if you are going to be
away from home on a vacation or trip. This
keeps children from turning on outside
faucets while you are away.
Check to see how often your home water
softening equipment regenerates and
backwashes. It can use as much as 100
gallons of water each time it does this. You
may want to cut down on the use of such
equipment. Reserve softened water for
kitchen use, bathing and laundry. Use
unsoftened water for all other purposes.
This may require a bypass line but is
advisable under any circumstances.
Insulate hot water pipes to reduce the
amount of water that must be run to get hot
water to the faucet.
If possible, locate the hot water heater as
close as possible to bathroom, kitchen and
laundry areas. The closer the heater is to
the faucet, the less water has to be run.
For this reason. it's sometimes better to
have two small water heaters located in
Check tub and lavatory faucets for drips.
Make repairs promptly. These problems get
worse - never better. Low-volume faucet
aerators are easy to install.
Teach children to turn water faucets off
tightly after use.
See if your toilet is continuing to flow
after flushing. Put a small amount of food
coloring into the tank. If the color
trickles into the bowl, there is a leak and
repairs are needed. Install toilet dams or
Place a quart plastic (not glass) bottle
filled with 1 inch of sand or gravel plus
water in your toilet flush tank to save 1
quart of water per flush. (Plastic bags can
be used instead of a bottle.)
You can adjust the float level of the toilet
to reduce the amount of water necessary to
flush the toilet, but this is not
recommended. You can break the float arm,
and you can reduce the pressure to the point
where it will not flush properly.
In buying a new toilet, look for a "low
volume" model. They don't use as much water
Put "gray" water (saved from cleaning,
bathing, etc.) in the toilet - not the flush
tank - when it needs flushing. Otherwise, if
the system loses pressure, "gray" water in
the tank could back-siphon and get into your
drinking water system.
Avoid using the toilet as a trash basket for
facial tissues and similar items. Each flush
uses 5 to 6 gallons of water.
Wash only full loads of laundry.
Buying a new washing machine? An automatic
clothes washer uses 40-80 gallons of water
per load. Shop carefully and look for these
Models that use less water.
Capacity to fill needs. Don't buy a larger
machine than you need.
"Float fill" models that provide a more
accurate control of the amount of water used
than "time" fill.
Water level controls so you can adjust the
amount of water you use, depending on the
"Suds saver" models that save wash water for
Use the "gray" water that siphons from your
washing machine into a laundry tub for
cleaning, to flush the toilet, or water
plants. See directions for using "gray"
water on plants. Use all "gray" water as
soon as possible. Do not store longer than
Save hand washing jobs and do them all
together. If possible, use the same sudsy
water for several items. Make one rinse do
the job of two.
Check garments to make sure they need
washing. Don't wash clothes more often than
Avoid buying new clothes that require
Urge family members to take showers instead
of tub baths when possible. If tub baths are
taken, the amount of water used should not
exceed one-third of tub capacity. Tub baths
can take 30 or more gallons of water,
depending on how high the water level.
Showers use 5-8 gallons of water per minute.
Cut down on the number of showers or tub
baths taken. Replace some of them with
sponge baths using a small amount of water
in a lavatory.
Limit shower time to 5 minutes or less.
Relax with massage, stretching, or exercises
instead of showers.
Turn off shower water while you apply soap
to body or lather hair
If possible, close bathtub drain during
shower so that all the water stays in the
tub. Use this to flush the toilet or water
Turn off water while you shave, brush teeth,
Encourage children to change into play
clothes after school so that school and play
clothes can be worn several times.
Save water used to wash produce and to do
other kitchen chores by placing a bowl or
basin under the faucet. Use water saved for
cleaning, watering plants, and similar
To get warm water, turn hot water on first;
then add cold water as needed. You get warm
water quicker this way and save water.
Reduce the use of garbage disposals—which
use as much as 4 gallons of water per minute
- by peeling vegetables, eggs, and other
foods on newspapers. Wrap the food waste and
dispose of it with the trash. Or, use food
waste in a garden compost pile.
Use only the amount of water necessary to
cook foods such as frozen vegetables and
stews. You'll preserve nutritional value as
well as save water.
Cook foods over low heat in pans with
tightly fitted lids to reduce evaporation of
Plan more one-dish casserole meals in which
vegetables are cooked without adding cooking
Use a tea kettle to heat water and avoid
loss of water through evaporation.
Time foods that must boil so that too much
evaporation does not take place.
Select the proper size pans for cooking.
Pans that are too large require more cooking
Use a pressure cooker to save time and
If possible, cover or wrap foods in aluminum
foil during baking or roasting to cut down
on the evaporation of liquid.
Save leftover vegetable juices for
reconstituting soups, cooking raw or frozen
vegetables and stews, and making gravy. Use
within a day or two.
Use leftover fruit juices for drinking and
making gelatin salads
Store drinking and meal preparation water
for a short period of time if an emergency
water shortage seems likely. Use clean
plastic or glass jugs with tight-fitting
lids. Keep in the refrigerator.
Chill water in bottles in the refrigerator
to avoid running water. Shake bottle before
serving to incorporate air in the water so
that it doesn't taste flat.
Put drinking water on the table only if
people really drink it.
Cut down on the number of utensils used in
preparing food, and on the plates and
glassware used with meals. This will save on
Wash only full loads of dishes in
dishwasher. A dishwasher uses about 12-20
gallons of water per load.
Avoid unnecessary rinsing of dishes that go
into the dishwasher. Scrape if necessary.
If washing dishes by hand, use one pan of
soapy water for washing and a second pan of
hot water for rinsing. Wash least soiled
Wipe up small spills as they occur to avoid
frequent mopping of floors.
Regularly vacuum carpets and rugs so you
won't need to shampoo them too often. Take
care of spots as they occur.
"Collect" household cleaning chores. Do them
together to save water.
Use rinse water saved from bathing or
clothes washing to water indoor plants. Do
not use soapy water on indoor plants. It
could damage them.
Water indoor plants only when needed. Too
much water can damage plants.
OUTSIDE THE HOME
Car washing can use a lot of water. You may
have to lower your standards and wash the
car less often.
Use a bucket of sudsy water to remove soil
from the car. Hose down only as a final
Drive your car onto your lawn before you
rinse it. Water the grass as you wash your
Take advantage of a soft summer rain to wash
your car. Get out there with soap and a
If you go to a car wash, patronize one that
If water supply permits use of outdoor pool,
cover the pool when it's not being used to
Clean the swimming pool filter often. Then
you won't have to replace the water as
Soapy water that comes from soap you can use
on your skin is OK for outdoor plants. Do
not use water with bleach or borax compound
in it on plants. It could damage them. Rinse
water can be used on outdoor or indoor
If water is rationed or otherwise
restricted, lawns and annuals should receive
the lowest priority for outside watering.
Trees and shrubs are more expensive to
replace and should receive any available
"Mulch" to retain moisture in the soil.
Spread leaves, lawn clippings, newspapers or
plastic around plants. Mulching also
controls weeds that compete with garden
plants for water.
Try "trickle" or "drip" irrigation systems
in outdoor gardens. These methods use 80-90
percent less water than hose or sprinkler
methods. A tiny plastic tube runs along the
ground near plants. The trickle system
provides many tiny holes to water closely
placed plants. The drip system tubing
contains holes or openings at strategic
places for tomatoes and other plants that
are more widely spaced.
If you are using a garden hose or sprinkler,
water the garden less frequently but water
it thoroughly. Don't let water run down
driveway or street.
Use a broom, not the hose, to clean the
garage, the sidewalks and the driveway.
The North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service