Home Water Conservation
Water is a precious and limited resource in Harwich and we cannot afford to waste it. We should all conserve this resource by becoming Water Wise. Water conservation reduces the need for developing new water sources and storage facilities, protects both streams and wetlands, and can save you money. Every drop counts and you can make a difference by paying attention to how you use water everyday and conserving. The Harwich Water Department has prepared the following water conservation tips to assist water consumers in conserving water and saving money.
Water that is used outdoors during the summer in Harwich accounts for up to 60% of the Town's total annual water consumption.
IRRIGATION WATER CONSERVATION
- Don't over-water your lawn. Even in a moderate climate like that on Cape Cod a good rainstorm may eliminate the need to water your lawn for a week or more.
- Water your lawn only when needed. Test the grass by walking across it, if footprints remain, your lawn requires watering.
- Avoid watering in the heat of the day because 40%-50% of your irrigation water can be lost to evaporation. Watering your lawn before 8am or after 6pm is best because it reduces evaporation. In certain areas, fungus may develop due to evening watering.
- Also, avoid watering on windy days since this will redirect the water from its intended area and cause the water to evaporate more quickly.
- Spot water dry areas when needed rather than running the entire irrigation system.
- Accept a less than lush lawn.
- Adjust your sprinkler system to water only the lawn and not the street, sidewalk or house.
- Let your grass grow to a length of 2-3 inches. Longer blades encourage deeper rooting, provide better shade for the roots and allow for more water retention.
- Do not remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade in one mowing. Leave mulch clippings on your lawn to help keep the soil cool and retain moisture. Better yet buy a mulching blade for your existing mower or a mulching lawnmower. Leaving mulch clippings on your lawn also returns nutrients to the soil and reduces the need for fertilizer.
- If you don't have an irrigation system or when spot watering, you can use a hose-end timer that goes between your outside spigot and hose. One hose-end timer model that works like a kitchen timer and shuts the water off automatically after a set time can be purchased for less than $15. A programmable timer that will turn the water on and off up to 3 times per day can be purchased for about $25. Note that a leak may occur if a quality hose is not used.
- The average sprinkler system applies 1/4 inch every 15-20 minutes. You can measure the application rate of your sprinkler system by placing several straight-sided containers within the range of your sprinkler. After 10 minutes of watering, measure the height of the water in the containers.
- Practice cycle irrigation methods to improve water penetration and reduce runoff. Set your sprinkler system to water in cycles of 15-20 minutes per hour (depending on your application rate) to obtain the desired inches of moisture. Avoid watering more than 1 inch per hour to allow for maximum water penetration.
- Kentucky Bluegrass (common type of turf) needs approximately 1/2 - 3/4 inch of moisture every three days during the summer and less in the spring and fall. Resetting your sprinkler system each month can save up to 50% of your irrigation water, see table below.
Inches of Water Required Per Week
Example Watering Schedule for an Average Sprinkler System Application rate of 1/4 inch every 20 minutes
|# Cycles per week
|Cycle Time (min)
- Irrigate in March and November as needed, only if it has been abnormally warm/dry and windy.
- Place a layer of mulch around trees and plants because it will slow the evaporation of moisture away from the soil and it will discourage weed growth.
- If you are re-landscaping your yard, consider planting drought resistant grass. If your landscaping project is small you can plant native or drought resistant plants (this is referred to as xeriscaping). Many drought resistant types of grass and plants are attractive, require less maintenance and will do better in the hot summer weather while saving you money on your water bill. Explore the Resources section of our web site for information and links to other xeriscape web sites.
OTHER OUTDOOR WATER CONSERVATION
- Avoid washing down your driveway, patio or sidewalks with a hose. Hosing down an average sized driveway can waste hundreds of gallons of water. Try using a garage push broom instead.
- Use shut-off nozzles on hoses. Always shut off hoses when they are not in use, a running hose can release 3-5 gallons of water per minute.
- When washing your car use a hose with a shut-off nozzle for initial and final rinsing and a bucket of soapy water for scrubbing. Water with dishsoap is good for grass so consider washing your car over the lawn.
- If you occasionally use the sprinkler or hose to cool down in the summer, limit the flow and select a dry area of the lawn to have fun while spot watering at the same time. This can be substituted for your normal watering cycle.
- Collect rainwater and use it to water your plants.
WATER CONSERVATION IN THE KITCHEN
- Fill a pitcher of water and keep it in the refrigerator for cold drinking water instead of running the faucet until the water has cooled down. A running faucet can waste 3-5 gallons of water per minute (gpm).
- When cleaning vegetables soak them first in a basin of water rather than rinsing them under a running faucet. A shallow basin of water can remove dirt and grit better than a spray of water. The water used for cleaning can be reused for plants.
- Run your dishwasher only when it is full. If you have a small amount of dishes, hand wash them. When hand washing dishes don't let the water run continuously. Try soaking pots, pans, and dishes immediately after they are used to reduce the water needed to clean them.
- Consider installing low-flow faucet aerators on your kitchen and bathroom faucets. The aerator can be screwed into your existing faucet and can reduce flow from up to 7 gpm to 1.5 gpm while maintaining a good flow of water.
WATER CONSERVATION IN THE BATHROOM
- Turn off the water while shaving, brushing your teeth, etc.
- Take shorter showers and/or install a low-flow showerhead. Showerheads sold today are required to be 2.5gpm or less, which is low-flow. A quality low-flow showerhead can be purchased for less than $20, which can be recovered by the savings on your water bill in less than one year.
- Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket. Flushing tissues and bits of paper can waste many gallons of water everyday.
- Consider replacing your toilet with a low-flush toilet. Conventional toilets use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. The newer ultra-low flush toilets (made since the early 1990's) use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. When it comes to purchasing an ultra-low flush toilet the old saying is true, "you get what you pay for."
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets. A slow drip can waste 15 - 20 gallons per day, while a larger leak or running toilet can waste over 100 gallons per day!
- Check your toilet for a leak by placing 10 drops of food coloring in the tank of your toilet and waiting 15 minutes without flushing. If color appears in the toilet bowl, you have a leak. Be sure to flush as soon as your test is done because the food coloring may stain the bowl.
- If you have a toilet that uses 5 - 6 gallons of water per flush you can install a water displacement device in the tank of your toilet to reduce the amount of water that is used. Place a plastic bottle, filled with water and a few stones or marbles to weigh it down, you can also use a brick, but be sure to place it in a watertight plastic bag to prevent it from disintegrating. Make sure that your water displacement device does not interfere with the flapper valve.
CONSERVATION IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM
- Try to only wash full loads of laundry.
- When washing partial loads don't use more water or soap than you need (adjust the water level and amount of detergent as needed).Wash clothes when they are dirty instead of each time they are worn.
- Avoid double washing by pre-soaking clothes. Use the pre-soak setting on your washer or start the wash cycle to partially fill the tub, turn the washer off and allow clothes to soak, then turn the wash cycle on