Ponder the Squander
Ponder the Squander is part of Abilene's public campaign to encourage water conservation throughout the community.
It wasn't that long ago, when in 2011 we experienced the driest year in Texas history. That led to Abilene's water crisis that lasted until 2016. During that time, the City worked to develop a new water conservation plan and new water resources. If we can supplement that work with the changes promoted through Ponder the Squander, we can cut the amount we use by more than half!
Ways to Conserve
By adding inexpensive devices and/or replacing old, ineffective fixtures with high-efficiency low-flow faucets/low-flush toilets, WaterSense appliances, etc, you can cut your water usage by 20-30%.
With a few changes in your routine every day, you can cut the amount of water you use by more than half. There are lots of opportunities to cut back in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and yard.
By simply identifying and fixing leaks in and outside of the house, hundreds of gallons of water can be saved. A faucet leak can waste 5 gallons a day; running toilet leak-200 gallons a day; and a sprinkler head or riser left unrepaired-13 to 16 gallons per minute.
Finding & Fixing Leaks Saves Water & Money
Studies have shown that more than 10% of the water used in the home can be due to leaks, resulting in a waste of about 20 gallons a day. Nationwide, household leaks waste nearly 900 billions gallons of water a year. That's a lot of water and a lot of high water utility bills. In fact, most homeowners don't realize they have a water leak until they receive a large bill. If you suspect you have one, it's best to try to locate it before you call the plumber. After locating it, you may find it to be an easy fix that you can do by yourself, or when the plumber comes, you can point him right to the issue. Both will save you money.
- Check your water meter regularly. This is the best first step to determine if you have a leak. If all water sources in the house and lawn are off, but the indicator is moving, that is a good sign you have a leak.
- Check inside faucets and shower heads. Even the smallest opening in a faucet could waste 100 gallons a day. Most of these drips can be fixed by replacing a faucets worn-out washer.
- Check your toilets. Undetected leaks from the toilet tank into the bowl can waste up to 100 gallons a day. To test for leaks, put a drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color of the bowl water changes, then your toilet will need a replacement rubber flapper or fill mechanism.
- Check the hot water tank. Listen for a hissing sound near the pressure relief valve on the hot water tank. If you hear something, it may be leaking.
- Look around the perimeter of you home. Once a month, it is a good idea to walk around your home to look for any leaks or damp/muddy areas. Also look at the outdoor spigot(s) for any dripping. If you have a hose connected to the spigot, check the connection for leaks as well.
- Look for sprinkler leaks. The best way to check for leaks is to turn on the sprinkler and run through a zone at a time. Check sprinkler heads to see if any are broken and look for running water, bubbling from the ground, or wet spots. If you suspect a leak, turn off the main sprinkler system valve and call the plumber.
- Cover your pool. A typical backyard pool in Texas can lose as much as 20,000 gallons a year to evaporation. The more you can cover your pool, even in season, the more water you can save.
Gadgets, Fixtures & New Appliances to Conserve Water & Save Money
Whether you want to conserve water to protect the environment or to save money, there are easy ways to by adding inexpensive, easy to install gadgets: changing standard fixtures to ones that are low flow and high-efficiency; and replacing old, water-wasting appliances with new ones that are high-efficiency and will significantly cut water usage.
Saving water is easy when you automate the process. These inexpensive, time and money-saving devices could cut your water bills by up to 50%.
- Install low flow high-efficiency aerators on all your faucets to reduce water usage by 50%. (WaterSense labeled products use at least 20% less water than standard models.)
- Low flow shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, reducing water usage by half (50%). (WaterSense labeled products use at least 20% less water than standard models.)
- Dual flush toilet converters Once installed, this mechanism releases a third of the water from a standard flush when the urine flush is used. They are easy to install, but you will have to turn off the water supply to the toilet and remove the water from the tank.
- Adjustable toilet flapper/tank bags reduce the amount of water used with each flush by adjusting the flush rate or taking up space in the toilet's tank. As an alternative, you can also use a plastic bottle filled with water.
- An automatic shower shutoff nozzle sits between the pipe and the showerhead. It allows you to turn off the water while you wash your body and shampoo your hair. Once done, flip the switch and the water will come back on at the temperature it was.
- Smart Shower/ShowerStart technology provides perfect water temperature at a press a button and is capable of adjusting water flow depending on what you are doing. Using its smartphone app, you can track your water usage, habits and trends. It works from a smart device that you can place between your shower head and inlet pipe.
- Timer valves. When added to a faucet, turns water off automatically when its timer goes off.
- Intelligent drains. Digitally measures/reads how much water is used.
- Water diverter. By installing one of these, bathwater or other unused water is diverted to an exterior waste pipe, which sends unused water to an outdoor hose to use on plants and grass.
With technology booming, there are more and more gadgets going on the market that come with their own apps going to enhance water conservation.
- Smart garden system. Once the garden device is inserted into the soil, it tracks light, humidity, temperature, soil nutrition and moisture. The water valve then uses the data collected to smartly control your existing watering system, watering your plants only when needed.
- Droplet sprinklers. Plug the names of plants and their location into the app and the accompanying tool will know when, where and how much water to distribute within a roughly thirty-foot range.
- Rain sensors/rainfall shutoff devices connect to your sprinkler system and shuts it off when there is moisture on the soil from a recent or current rain shower.
- Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems can cut watering use by up to 50%. Both slowly release water directly onto the plant's roots, which helps minimize evaporation. They can also be set to an irrigation timer.
Replace Appliances & Fixtures
- Replacing old appliances with new high-efficiency models. As technology increases, fixtures and appliances are continually being upgraded to become more and more efficient. So it is important to change the out the old to the new every once in a while.
- Toilets. Toilets use the greatest amount of water in your home. If your house was built before 1992 and the toilets haven't replaced recently, you could benefit from installing a WaterSense labeled toilet that uses 1.28 gallons or less per flush versus the standard 3.5 gallons a flush. A family of four can save 16,000 gallons of water per year by making this change.
- Washing machine. Washers are the second largest water user in your home. If your clothes is old, you should consider replacing it with a high-efficiency (ENERGY STAR) machine which uses four times less energy and has a low water factor. To compare water factors, review certified product list. Previously, front loaders have been more efficient, but new top loaders are beginning to adapt to the high-efficiency design.
- Dishwasher. Is your dishwasher efficient? If it has the ENERGY STAR label on the back, you can rest assured that your dishwasher is 30% more water efficient and 12% more energy efficient and will save an average of 3,870 gallons of water over its lifespan.
- Tankless water heaters. Replacing your water heater with a tankless one will deliver hot water immediately upon turning on the faucet, which reduces water waste while waiting for temperature to adjust.
- Look for the WaterSense label. This label means that the product meets the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) specifications for water efficiency and performance, and are backed by independent, third-party certification. Fixtures and appliances that have WaterSense labels include irrigation controllers, sprinkler bodies, aerators, showerheads, faucets, toilets/urinals, and spay valves. Soon, bath and shower diverters, pool covers, cation exchange water softeners and soil moisture-based control technologies will also be WaterSense labeled.
- Use the Consortium for Energy Efficiency website as a resource to compare water use between models.
Taking good care of your drains and plumbing can prevent costly, inconvenient plumbing problems. But when it comes to everyday drain maintenance, convenient, wisdom isn't always wise. Here are few common misconceptions about what can and can't go down the drain.
- Myth: We have an abundance of water. And, it just rained.
- Fact: We depend on our nearby lakes and reservoirs to supply our City's water. They depend on rain to stay full. However, due to our dry climate, Abilene can face water shortages. After a long drought, when lakes levels are well under the spillway, a typical day of rain will make little impact.
- Myth: My water choices don't make a difference.
- Fact: Actually, you alone can make a significant difference. Small changes in your routine can cut your water usage by more than half. The average amount of water a person uses at home a day is 88 gallons. If you cut those by half and saved 44 gallons a day, that would be 16,016 gallons of water a year.
- Myth: Bottled water is safer than tap.
- Fact: Tap water and bottled water are comparable in terms of safety. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water and screens for dangerous pollutants. It also mandates that water utilities provide annual quality reports to customers, educating them of its safety. Read the 2022 Water Quality Report (PDF)
From The Tap: News & Information
Tips for Detecting Water Leaks
Water leaks can be very expensive. Most customers don’t realize they have water leaks until they receive a large bill. The best way to save yourself from the surprise, expense, and potential damage of a long-standing leak is to regularly check your water meter to keep tabs on water usage.
Holiday Grease is a Pain to Your Drain
When we think of the holidays, we thing of a big celebratory meal with family and friends. We plan this meal out weeks ahead of time and spend days filled with cooking and baking in preparation. The holiday season is also the biggest time of year for plumbers to be called for backups and clogs.
This Fall: Bag It, Don't Blow It!
It's an annual ritual, one that lasts a month or so, where we pull out our rakes and clean up our yards from seasonal debris. We see this as nature taking it's course, but did you know that these dead leaves, grass clippings, and other yard debris are actually stormwater pollutants if not bagged up and thrown away?