Some tips for home water conservation

Water is one of our most abundant, yet precious, natural resources, as it is a basic necessity for sustaining human life. Water makes up more than two-thirds of the weight of the human body, and without it, humans would die in a few days. The amount of water in our environment is static and cycles to various locations and to various forms.

The United States Geological Survey estimates the total water volume of the world is 326 million cubic miles (a cubic mile of water equals more than 1 trillion gallons). However, the USGS estimates that only 0.3% of water on earth is in a form usable by humans.

Arkansas has tremendous surface and groundwater supplies. However, it is also susceptible to drought. The USGS estimates that 2.3 million Arkansans collectively use 421 million gallons of public-supplied water per day for domestic use.

Relieving stress on our water supplies is just one benefit of home water conservation. Other benefits include decreased water bills, decreased wastewater treatment costs for communities and preservation of our aquatic environment.

The following general household tips are courtesy of the USGS:

Don’t let it run. We have all developed the bad habit of letting the faucet run while we brush our teeth or wait for a cold glass of water. Keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator or turning the faucet off while we brush our teeth can save several gallons of water each day. It’s simple really. Before you turn on the tap, think of ways you can use less water to accomplish the same purpose.

Fix the drip. There is no such thing as a little drip. A leaky faucet with a drip of just one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter can waste 10 gallons of water every day. You can turn off that drip by replacing worn washers or valve seats.

Fix the silent leak. Even worse than the careless hand on the faucet is the silent toilet bowl leak, probably the single-greatest water waster in homes. A leak of 1 gallon every 24 minutes — an average amount — totals 2.5 gallons per hour or 60 gallons per day. To check your toilet for a leak, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait. If the color appears in the bowl, then there’s a leak. Often, these leaks can be fixed with a few minor adjustments — cleaning calcium deposits from the toilet ball in the tank or replacing worn valves.

Close the hose. Letting the garden hose run faster or longer than necessary while we water the lawn or wash the car often becomes a careless and wasteful habit. A half-inch garden hose under normal water pressure pours out more than 600 gallons of water per hour, and a three-quarter-inch hose delivers almost 1,900 gallons in the same length of time. If left on overnight, one garden hose can easily waste twice as much water as the average family uses in a month.

Check the plumbing. Proper maintenance is one of the most effective water savers. Faucet washers are inexpensive and take only a few minutes to replace. At home, check all water taps, hoses and hose connections (even those that connect to dishwashers and washing machines) for leaks. Check the garden hose, too — it should be turned off at the faucet, not just at the nozzle.

Teach your community. Just as it is important to conserve water in your own home, it is important to help our towns and cities save water by teaching others to use water wisely. In agricultural areas, water may be saved by using more effective irrigation methods. In industrial areas, manufacturers can save water by reusing it and by treating industrial wastes. Cities and towns can save water by eliminating leaks and installing meters. Wastewater can be treated and reused. As you conserve water at home and in your community, you will help ensure that the water available now continues to meet the growing water needs of the future.

4-H informationThere are several 4-H Clubs for Garland County youths who are 5 to 19 years old. For more information on all the fun 4-H activities available, call Carol Ann McAfee at the Extension office, 501-623-6841, or email [email protected]

Master Gardener information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge. They’re open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information call Luke Duffle at 623-6841 or email him at [email protected]

EHC information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information about EHC, call Alison Crane at 501-623-6841 or email [email protected]

    Jimmy Driggers – Submitted photo