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Water Conservation Tips

leaking faucetOutdoors

Up to 60% of all water use in the summer is outdoors on landscaping. However, one of the most common problems with landscaping is over watering! By using the water conservation techniques outlined on this page, you might be surprised by a better looking yard and lower water bills. You will also be helping the community by ensuring the availability of water during peak pumping periods. Most importantly, you are saving water for future generations.

Do I need to water?

  • Watering thoroughly, but infrequently, develops a deep root system so plants can use moisture and nutrients deep in the ground
  • Water according to moisture in the soil; not a fixed schedule
  • Lawns are dry when footprints remain in the grass long after being made

How much should I water?

  • Lawns need only one inch of water per week; approximately three times a week for 20 minutes
  • Use a tuna can or a rain gauge to accurately measure the amount of water your irrigation system delivers
  • Set a timer as a reminder to turn off the sprinkler
  • Water in the early morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., avoiding windy conditions

Other easy ways to conserve water outdoors

  • Don’t irrigate the pavement; choose and adjust sprinklers to fit the lawn area
  • Mulch to retain moisture and prevent water-robbing weeds
  • Mow grass to a height of 2 1/2″ with a sharp blade
  • Never use a hose to rinse off pavement; sweep leaves and grass clippings
  • Protect your water supply; make sure irrigation systems have back flow preventers
  • Try Xeriscaping: plant for water efficiency


  • Consider rain barrels to capture water from a roof and hold it for later use. This reuse of rain water can be used for watering gardens or indoor plants. Collecting roof runoff in rain barrels also reduces the amount of water that flows from your property in to storm water sewers. Using rain barrels is a great way to protect the environment, it’s free water for use in your landscape and it helps extend the useful like of existing infrastructure.


By conserving water in your home, you can save money and help protect this precious resource for years to come.

Check For Water Leaks

  1. Check meter reading. Meter is usually along the water main, in the ground or in the basement
  2. Stop all water use for 30 minutes
  3. Check to see if meter has moved. If the number has changed, it’s time to check for leaks

Leaking Faucets

  • A slow leak in a faucet can waste 15 to 20 gallons of water a day
  • The majority of leaks are due to worn out washers. Turn off the water supply and replace the washer
  • If the faucet is still leaking, consult a do-it-yourself manual available at most hardware stores or the library

Two thirds of all indoor water use takes place in the bathroom so it’s the easiest place to conserve!


  • Toilets should be seen, not heard! If you hear the water in your toilet running long after you flush, you could be wasting hundreds of gallons a day
  • Most toilet leaks are easily repaired. Take off the toilet tank lid and flush. Many problems can be readily recognized
  • Check the overflow pipe. If water is spilling over the top, then the arm needs to be adjusted so the valve shuts the water off sooner
  • To check for leaks around the stopper, put a few drops of food coloring in the reservoir tank. Don’t flush for 1 hour. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl, the stopper at the bottom of the tank needs to be replaced
  • Each flush of a standard toilet uses approximately seven gallons of water. To reduce the amount of water used, fill a small plastic bottle (for example a 32 ounce soda container) with water and put it in the corner of the tank. Keep the bottle clear of the valve stopper. Don’t displace so much water that you need to double flush. Don’t use a brick or any other item that could disintegrate and cause problems
  • Don’t use your toilet as a garbage can


  • Typical shower heads use around five gallons of water per minute. Install a low flow shower head and use only two or three gallons
  • Limit yourself to five-minute showers and fill the tub with only five inches of water for baths

Additional Tips

  • Think of ways to conserve in your daily activities
  • Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing dishes in the sink
  • Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine

We’ll help you with your water conservation projects. Sign up for a free energy audit or call 573-874-7325.

Contact Utility Services


701 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65205




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