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News / Life / Clark County Life

Energy Adviser: Water use changes can add up

By Clark Public Utilities
Published: April 27, 2024, 6:05am

With a disappointing snowpack in the mountains and a warm dry spring in the forecast, the Washington Department of Ecology recently declared a drought emergency for nearly the entire state.

Using water efficiently and not wasting it helps preserve local water supplies and keep your utility bills lower.

“Little changes inside the home and in the yard can really add up to significant savings,” said Andrew Holmes, Water Operations Manager at Clark Public Utilities. “That’s as good for your wallet as it is for the environment.”

Inside your home, fix any leak you find. According to Ecology, a leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day, that’s the same as flushing more than 50 times for no reason.

Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Also, instead of pre-rinsing dishes before loading them, scrape or wipe them with a scrub pad or a sponge. Washing one load of dishes by hand uses up to 27 gallons of water per load compared to as little as 3 gallons used by an Energy Star-rated dishwasher to wash the same amount.

Instead of pouring unsalted cooking water down the drain, let it cool then use it to water indoor or outdoor plants.

Taking shorter showers and shutting the water off while brushing or shaving will add up to significant water savings. For example, showering for less than 5 minutes will save up to 1,000 gallons per month.

Outdoors, it’s easy to ignore the rivulet that runs across the sidewalk or allowing the hose to run while you’re lathering the car, but those small choices add up to a staggering amount of consumption.

Your grass might need less water than you’re giving it. Most lawns only require an inch of water per week. It’s best to water only in the early morning when cooler temperatures reduce evaporation.

Automatic sprinkler systems are convenient but are prone to water waste when they’re not programmed properly. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates homes with automatic irrigation systems can use 50 percent more water outdoors than those without.

To manually control the flow, place empty tuna cans in the areas you are watering and stop when they fill to about an inch. Automate it by adding a WaterSense-labeled controller. They reduce unnecessary water consumption by around 15 percent, according to the EPA.

Like every tool, irrigation systems occasionally fail. Broken or leaking sprinkler heads can waste water by the gallons and burn through your dollars. Plus, a working backflow device is critical to protecting your community’s groundwater supply. Every system should be annually inspected by a professional and repaired as needed. A WaterSense-certified contractor is a smart choice. They are trained to audit, install and maintain systems to provide just the right amount of water and not a drop more.

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Water trees and plants right at the ground — not on the plant. Know each plant’s water needs and don’t overwater. Further, trees and most plants grow deeper roots with less frequent and longer watering than they will after regular light watering.

When washing the car, fill a bucket instead of running straight from the hose. When it’s time to rinse, use an adjustable nozzle to use as little water as necessary.

Clark Public Utilities offers additional water conservation tips at its website, https://powerzone.clarkpublicutilities.com/. You can also call the water utility at 360-992-8022.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

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