Over 120,000 residents of the Neponset Watershed rely on local groundwater for some or all of their drinking water. Much of the groundwater in our watershed is being pumped out by public water suppliers before it can reach surface waters.
There are many steps that we can all take to help conserve water around our homes and businesses, such as:
- Upgrading to water-efficient appliances
- Fixing leaks
- Planning water-efficient landscapes
- Changing wasteful behavior
It’s up to all of us to conserve water and protect our water resources!
Water Conservation Tips
Advances in plumbing technology and design mean that faucets, showers, and toilets can use significantly less water than standard models while still delivering the rinse, spray, and flush you expect.
If you are replacing water appliances, look for the WaterSense label at your local retailer. WaterSense is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program designed to encourage water efficiency in the United States through the use of a special label on consumer products.
All products bearing the WaterSense label complete a third-party certification process that includes independent laboratory testing.
NepRWA works with municipal water departments in the Watershed to obtain state grants that provide rebates to residents for water-conserving toilets and clothes washers. Check with your local water department about their rebate criteria and incentives.
In addition, many towns offer discounted rain barrels and irrigation sensors, and give away FREE water-efficient showerheads and faucet aerators.
When purchasing water-efficient appliances, make sure to look for items that carry the WaterSense and EnergyStar labels.
Easy-to-fix faucet and toilet leaks waste thousands of gallons of water a year. Do your part to fix leaks and help conserve water AND money!
The most common sources of leaks in the home are from leaking toilets, which can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day!
Sometimes you can hear the toilet water “running”, but more often than not, toilet leaks are silent.
All toilets should be tested for leaks on a regular basis — even toilets that are just a few years old! The reason? Mineral deposits and worn toilet flappers. Flappers are an inexpensive, easy-to-replace rubber part that can be found at most hardware stores.
Test your toilet to see if your flapper is leaking:
- Place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank
- Wait about 5 minutes WITHOUT flushing.
- If any color shows up in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
When replacing a worn toilet flapper, be sure to get a flapper designed for your toilet make and model.
BONUS: Many Neponset River Watershed towns offer generous rebates for the purchase of an EPA WaterSense labeled water-efficient toilet. Check with your local water department to see if you qualify!
Corrosion, mineral deposits, or defective parts are usually the cause of a leaking faucet, and it can waste hundreds of gallons of water a month.
Do-it-yourself fixes are not difficult and can save you from paying expensive plumbing fees. In addition to saving water, you’ll also be saving the energy it takes to heat the water.
If it’s time for a new faucet, be sure to choose a water-efficient WaterSense labeled model.
Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help control leaks.
For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.
Outdoor Faucet Leaks
Outdoor leaks often go unnoticed because they aren’t always visible. Check outdoor faucets for leaks on a regular basis during the spring and summer. The smallest leaks add up to hundreds of wasted gallons of water.
Check your water bill and meter
- Analyze your water bill. If a family of four with updated fixtures exceeds 6,000 gallons per month over the winter, there’s a good chance that you have a leak somewhere in your house.
- Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes, you probably have a leak.
Making simple changes to your daily routine will save water, energy, and money!
In the Bathroom
- Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Take shorter showers! Showers generally use less water than baths.
In the Kitchen
- Stopper the sink or use a wash basin if washing dishes by hand, or when rinsing fruits and vegetables.
- Use leftover water from rinsing fruits and vegetables, or from half-empty glasses (or bottles) of water, to give your houseplants a drink.
- Make sure that the dishwasher is fully loaded before running it.
- Scrape food from your plate instead of rinsing it, before loading into the dishwasher.
- Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
- Thaw food in the refrigerator, rather than using a running tap of hot water.
- Add food waste to your compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.
In the Laundry Room
- Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
- Upgrade to a water-efficient clothes washer, which typically uses half the amount of water of “traditional” top-loading washers.
Summertime lawn watering uses almost 50% more water than indoor winter usage, and depletes the groundwater that sustains local streams and ecosystems.
Lawn & Garden
- Plan your landscape with consideration for varying climate conditions to conserve water and potentially save you unnecessary expense.
- Test your lawn by stepping on a patch of grass; if it springs back, it doesn’t need water. In our area, a lawn needs just 1″ of water per week to stay green.
- Remove thatch and aerate turf to encourage movement of water to the root zone.
- Raise your lawn mower cutting height and remove less than 1/3 each time you mow. Longer grass blades shade roots, reduce evaporation, and inhibit weed growth.
- Minimize or eliminate fertilizing, which promotes new growth needing additional watering. If you fertilize, use organic or phosphate free brands, make sure to sweep up excess product from driveways, and never fertilize before a rain storm!
- Redirect your downspouts toward your lawn, shrubs, rain garden or rain barrel. This will also prevent runoff.
- Avoid irrigating on windy days. Over half the water evaporates before it even hits the ground.
- Install moisture sensors on irrigation systems. Relying on a simple timer to run sprinklers is not water efficient.
- Detect and repair all leaks in irrigation systems, sprinklers and outdoor spigots.
- Toilets are the single largest water user in a household.
- Over the course of your lifetime, you will likely flush the toilet nearly 140,000 times.
- Toilets built before 1992 can use anywhere between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water per flush. Under current federal law, new toilets must not exceed 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf).
The average older model, top loading clothes washer uses about 40 gallons of water per load.
Newer, more water efficient clothes washers use less than 20 gallons of water per load, without sacrificing cleaning performance.
Replacing a standard showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model, will reduce the average family’s annual energy and water costs by nearly $70 and save 2,900 gallons of water per year—the amount of water it takes to wash more than 70 loads of loads of laundry.
- Faucets account for more than 15% of indoor household water use—more than 1 trillion gallons of water across the United States each year.
- Although federal law requires that new faucets not exceed 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm) at 60 psi, older faucets can flow at rates as high as 3 to 7 gpm.
Replace the faucet aerator!
If you’re not ready to purchase a new faucet, but still want to save water, you can replace an older aerator with a water saving model. Try a 1.5 gpm in the kitchen and a .5 gpm in the bathroom, and begin saving water immediately!
Faucet aerators, which are located at the end of a faucet, mix air and water to create a water flow that is consistent and splash free. Most faucets have aerators, or have threads on the inside or outside of the faucet to accept an aerator.
How water use impacts the Neponset Watershed
Excessive water use can cause low streamflow for the Neponset River and some of its tributaries, which affects wildlife, recreation, public safety, and our drinking water supply.
Drought also has a big impact on the amount of water that flows through the Watershed.
Always follow outdoor water restrictions in your community (even if you use a private well) to ensure that there is enough water in town for drinking, public health, and firefighting.