By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator
More than one trillion gallons of water are wasted in American homes each year because of easy-to-fix leaks. That’s why the City of College Station is joining with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week to encourage homeowners to find and repair leaks during the annual Fix a Leak Week.
In the average home, household leaks waste more than 10,000 gallons of water each year. That’s enough water for 270 loads of laundry.
You can identify leaks around your home and start saving today with these three simple steps:
Check your water bill and water meter for signs of leaks. If your water use this winter exceeded 12,000 gallons a month for a family of four, you probably had leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when you’re not using any water. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak. Water meters also have a leak indicator – if there is a (+) sign on a digital water meter, or if the red dial is moving at all when you’re not using water – that’s a sign of a leak.
Check for dripping faucets, showerheads, sprinklers, and other fixtures. Silent toilet leaks, a common culprit of high water bills, can be detected by placing a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank and waiting 10 minutes before flushing. If any color appears in the bowl during that time, you have a leak. Don’t forget to check your irrigation system and spigots, too.
Apply pipe tape to make sure plumbing fixture connections are sealed tight and give leaking faucets and showerheads a firm twist with a wrench. If you can’t stop those drops yourself, contact a licensed plumber.
For additional savings, twist a WaterSense-labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without affecting flow. Faucet aerators only cost a few dollars can save a household more than 500 gallons each year—enough for 180 showers.
If you just can’t nip that drip, it may be time to replace the fixture. Look for WaterSense-labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well or better than standard fixtures. Replacing an old, inefficient showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model will shrink your household’s water footprint by 2,900 gallons annually while still letting you shower with power, thanks to EPA’s efficiency and performance criteria.
With less hot water passing through, WaterSense-labeled showerheads can also save enough energy to power a television for a year. If you Replace an old toilet that uses 3.5 gallons or more per flush with a WaterSense-labeled toilet, you could be eligible for a $100 rebate.
How do you get started?
Finally, grab a wrench or contact your favorite handy person, plumber, or certified irrigation professional to repair your leaky toilets, faucets, showerheads, and irrigation systems.
The water you save will help conserve our precious water while saving you a substantial amount of money.
Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator for more than 15 years after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and earned a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.
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