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Water Conservation – be water smart, not water short

Water is a valuable resource in Washington.  Using our resources wisely will help us fill the needs of people, industries, businesses and farms, while also keeping fish and other aquatic life alive and well.  Across the state these water users have diverse needs and goals we must find a way to share limited, fluctuating supplies.

Many factors impact water availability.  Climate change is resulting in reduced snow packs and higher temperatures.  Rapid population growth means that more water is used.  And economic expansion contributes to an increase in paved surfaces, which means more stormwater runoff and allows less water to be absorbed through the ground.

Water conservation—using water efficiently and avoiding waste—is fundamental to ensuring water availability in the future.  In order to protect our water supply everyone can practice conservation.  In our businesses, schools, and homes, using water more efficiently will lessen the effects of limited water supply.

Home Residents
Do you know how much water your household uses on a daily basis? Test your WaterSense!

We use water every day in our homes for showers, laundry, and keeping our lawns and gardens healthy. The largest use of water used inside the home is from inefficient fixtures, mainly the toilet.  Outside, nearly 40 percent of municipal water is used for watering lawns and gardens.

Reducing water use in and around the home is easy. Just remember, be water smart, not water short. Use only what you need.

Indoor
You may have heard all of the tips before.  Many of these small actions will help you save money and protect the environment.  Try new ways to get on the path of water efficiency without changing your lifestyle. 

Look for water-efficient products with the WaterSense label .  These products are approximately 20 percent more efficient than their standard counterparts.  When shopping for new fixtures, remodeling, or replacing that leaky toilet choose a WaterSense product.

Many water and wastewater utilities offer rebates on water-efficient appliances and fixtures.  Check with your local service provider.

Outdoor
Hosing off driveways and running hoses while washing the car may not be the biggest outdoor uses, but they do waste water.  Landscape watering is the largest outdoor water use and up to half of that water is wasted before ever reaching your plants.  Many opportunities are available outdoors for homeowners to become water smart.

Landscape watering
Some experts estimate that 50 percent of water is lost due to evaporation and run-off. Choose a WaterSense landscape irrigation professional partner. Partnering irrigation professionals can install, audit or upgrade your system to save up to 9,000 gallons each year. Technology also is available to ensure that sprinkler systems are on their best behavior. Sensor and weather-based technologies allow systems to water according to weather and shut off in the rain.

Not interested in an irrigation system?  Purchase in inexpensive hose timer to avoid over-watering.  Soaker hoses are also a great option for avoiding evaporation due to wind.

Collecting rain water to use on your landscape can help you save water outdoors.

Many local water providers offer rebates on efficient irrigation devices.

Landscape choices
Native and drought tolerant plants can make a beautiful alternative to unused turf areas in your yard.  WSU Cooperative Extension has many resources to assist home gardeners with landscaping using native plants.

For more information on exactly where water is used in your home visit H2ouse.

Industrial and Commercial Business
It is both economical and helpful for the environment for all of us to be water smart.  Businesses can replace inefficient equipment and make changes in operations to save water.  Replacing old fixtures, upgrading irrigation systems, and looking for options to re-use water can have a major effect on the bottom line. Ecology’s TREE Team has worked with many businesses across the state to reduce waste, including water.

You can read about the potential benefits from TREE recommendations along with comments from businesses who worked with the team.

Case studies are available from the Seattle area’s Saving Water Partnership that describe water savings for a variety of commercial water users.

Choosing green building practices also can help businesses be water smart. There are many incentives in Washington state for building green and cost-benefit analyses show that these buildings can save money over their lifetimes.

Environmental Education (Pre K-12)
Healthy watersheds require clean, plentiful water supplies. Resources are available for teachers to help students understand the connections between the source of the water they use and the ways their water use habits affect the environment and human health. Students also can learn how to reduce their impact on water supply.

Curriculum guides such as Project WET can be found on our Environmental Education page. These guides offer activities on water availability and watershed health and many are aligned with state education standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program also offers educational materials including A Day in the Life of a Drop featuring a pledge that students and families can take to Filter Out Bad Water Habits.

Water and Wastewater Utilities
Water efficiency and conservation programs can help reduce water and wastewater infrastructure costs. Promoting water conservation to your customers has been made easy with EPA’s WaterSense Program. Utilities can become promotional partners and take advantage of a strong, consistent, national campaign promoting water conservation.

Washington State Department of Health has many resources available for water systems. The Water Use Efficiency page has information ranging from reducing leaks to goal setting.

As Washington faces climate challenges and works toward successful water management, Ecology has begun to develop and adopt rules on all aspects of reclaimed water. Reclaiming treated wastewater reduces the discharge of pollutants into lakes, streams, and rivers and at the same time can replace potable water supplies for many common uses like landscape irrigation.

Agricultural
Agricultural water conservation on farms is a valuable tool for successful water management. Understanding the watershed’s water supply is a first step to saving water. Tools such as the Washington Irrigation Guide and Scientific Irrigation Scheduling can help farms to be water smart and use water efficiently.

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