Is Your Water Needlessly Washing Down the Drain?

Debbie Dahmen

If you take one five-minute shower a day, wash one load of clothes; brush your teeth twice a day, shave your face or legs once, use the dishwasher once, and flush the toilet 8 times in any given day you have used nearly 50 gallons of water. Multiply that by 365 days and you have used over 18,000 gallons of water in a year. That doesn't include what you use to water your garden.


With water prices at an all time high and some areas near drought conditions, many people are looking for ways to conserve. A great place to start is to understand more about your own water usage, both in your home and in your garden.

If you are among those energy wise folks using water-efficient fixtures, you are doing a great service. In homes not utilizing water- efficient fixtures, toilets use the most water on a daily basis with clothes washers a close second. Next in line are showers. As many areas in this country are facing serious water shortages there are actions everyone can take to not only conserve water, but also save money at the same time.

Toilet dams or rock-filled containers can reduce the amount of water flowing out of your toilet by as much as 25%. You want to make sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly.

Using low flow, water saving shower heads can reduce the amount of water flowing through your shower by as much as 50%. When brushing your teeth, turn off the water. Take quick and efficient showers. Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the water. You will quickly see if this is an area that needs repair. Wash clothes only when you have a full load. Fix any leaky faucets by replacing old washers. This alone can save you gallons a day.

What about outdoor water usage?   In the Draper area there is a lot of new construction going on. As you plan your garden, think about what will look good while saving water. There are countless ways you can conserve here. First, use water wise plants. Water wise plants are those that only need to be watered about every two weeks. Use drought resistant grasses and ground covers. You can also choose shrubs and trees that require very little watering. Check with your local nursery for a variety of selections.

Water in the early morning hours. This reduces the amount of unnecessary evaporation. Avoid watering sidewalks, walkways and driveways. You can avoid this common blunder by adjusting sprinkler heads and water pressure. Raise your lawnmower blade. The higher the cut, the deeper the roots will grow. This allows for more moisture to be retained.

Part of your job in conserving water is to educate your children on how they can be a part of the solution. One way to do this is to avoid purchasing water toys that constantly require more and more water usage.

Encourage others to conserve water by including tips and articles in any company or organizations newsletters you know of. If everyone does just a little, it can help a lot.

About The Author: Debbie Dahmen is a member of the Distinctive Properties team. Distinctive Properties is a unique personalized real estate agency serving the south end of the Salt Lake valley including Draper, Riverton and Sandy. Family owned and operated, Darlene Dipo, Debbie Dahmen and DeAnna Dipo pooled their 60 years of experience to offer their clients flexibility and individualized attention. All three women have achieved the coveted designation of Certified Real Estate Specialists, a designation held by only 3% of real estate agents. Visit for further information.

September 10, 20040 found this helpful

We have water saver shower heads & kitchen faucet.

I don't always shower every day,sometimes I just freshen up with a wet wash cloth & sometimes I do that more than once a day.

I've Never run the water while I brush my teeth I just rinse the brush when I take it from the holder,Put toothpaste on,Wet it a bit,turn off the water,Brush my teeth then rinse the brush & out it back.

I also shave dry due to always having cat scratches & various other clutz related scabs I don't want to shave off,OUCH!.

I collect the water from running it to get hot in Drink jugs to water my plants & animals.

Mom & I live alone & I have a bit of a bladder problem 24/7. Mom has it at night.We don't feel compelled to flush every time we ,shall we say ,drizzle a bit. If we did ,the local water table would likely drop several feet per year.

We have a well & a septic tank but our laundry water doesn't go into the tank & we wash our dishes in the sink using a small bucket of suds & a scrubber sponge to get the crud off the dishes,[we also soak some by filling with diluted suds,] then rinse & air dry.

I do confess to taking an occasional much needed Long Hot shower. I get aches & pains that only the warm water & steam can help.

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September 10, 20040 found this helpful

There's another way that you can conserve water, xeriscape landscaping. When we lived in FL, the Ag. Dept. had a brochure on how to do this. It's low-water and water conserving landscaping.


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September 10, 20040 found this helpful

There is an Ezine about xeriscape landscaping, Xeriscape Gardening News. I find there is a lot of great information in it. Here's a link to September's issue:

Also if you search in Google for xeriscape and your state there is a lot of information about xeriscape gardening at universities and extension services for particular areas.

- Susan

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