Here’s How You Can Conserve Water During the Drought Watch

A cartoon image of a tap dripping water for an LCA post on water conservation during the drought watch.

It’s dry out there! So dry that the state Department of Environmental Protection has announced that Lehigh and 35 other counties—including Berks, Bucks, Northampton, and Monroe—are under a drought watch.

LCA is not experiencing any system-specific issues related to supplying our customers with water, but we are asking ALL customers to immediately begin to conserve water and reduce water use by at least 5-10 percent. We’re keeping a very close eye on the situation, and will provide you with regular updates on our Water Supply page, and on our social media accounts.

In the meantime, there are a number of simple things you can do to cut your water use. Each tip will help conserve our precious water resources and save you money on your water bill.

First, Get a Baseline

How and where do you use water? Here in the U.S., we typically use more water per person per day than any other country in the world. Estimates on the amount vary, but at the low end, it works out to about 82 gallons of water a day, and on the high end, 156 gallons of water a day! In other countries, those figures range from about 3 gallons a day to 77 gallons a day.

To determine your personal water footprint, you’ll need to track your activities throughout the day to see how much you’re consuming, and to determine where you can stop wasting water.

Much of our water waste comes from two places: the bathroom (frequently flushing toilets, taking long showers), and watering the lawn. An 8-minute shower, for instance, uses about 17 gallons of water; about 3 of those gallons run right down the drain while we wait for the water to warm up.

To figure out how much water you’re consuming, you can use the handy worksheet that’s included in our Customer Troubleshooting Guide, or try the Water Footprint Network’s personal water calculator.

Next, Take Action

Now that you know where your water is going, it’s time to find ways to reduce your use.

First, check for (and fix) leaks. If you’re a renter, report leaks to your building manager. Things like drippy faucets and outdoor taps, leaky hoses, inefficient irrigation systems and old toilet flappers can waste hundreds or thousands of gallons a year. Just a single leaky faucet can waste more than 100 gallons of water annually. The United States Geological Survey has a handy Drip Calculator that flushes out an estimate of how much water a leaky faucet is actually wasting over time.

You can check out our post from Fix a Leak Week for handy tips, tricks, and links to resources on finding and repairing leaks around the house.

Next, change your habits using the tips below.

20 Easy Ways To Conserve Water Today

1. Stop watering the lawn. It will just go dormant. Better yet, consider eliminating your lawn altogether in favor of a vegetable garden or a meadow filled with native plants that attract birds, butterflies, and pollinators.

2. Replace older plumbing fixtures with WaterSense products.

3. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth.

4. Take shorter (and fewer) showers. Only shower when you need to. Set a timer and challenge yourself (and the family) to shave off a few minutes each day. Skip baths altogether.

5. Collect excess shower water with a bucket and reuse it in the garden. You can also reuse it to flush the toilet—just dump the water in the bowl when you’re done, instead of pressing the handle.

6. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Only flush your toilet for No. 2.

7. Always dispose of wipes, sanitary products, tissues, insects, and other waste in the trash rather than the toilet — this not only saves water, it prevents costly clogs.

8. Use two pans for handwashing dishes: one for the soapy water, and one for rinse water. When you’re done, reuse the water in the garden.

9. Skip pre-rinsing your dishes—just scape the worst off to be composted. Today’s dishwashers are pretty powerful, and are quite adept at handling stuck-on food in all but the worst cases. If something’s really stuck on, soak the dishes, then re-use the water in the garden.

10. Only do full loads of dishes and laundry.

11. Refreshing your pet’s water? Use the old water for your houseplants.

12. Reuse water from dehumidifiers to water plants.

A picture of pasta being strained into a pan to conserve water, to illustrate an LCA post on saving water during the drought watch.

13. Save and reuse water from steaming or boiling vegetables and pasta to add flavor to your next recipe that calls for water. You can also save it to make a vegetable stock, for baking, or (if it’s not too salty) watering the plants.

14. Collect vegetable rinse water in a pan or bucket, and reuse it to water houseplants.

15. Only wash your car at a carwash! They’re much more efficient than a garden hose and bucket.

16. Use a broom to clean the sidewalk or driveway—not the hose.

17. Install a rain barrel, and use it to water your flower and vegetable gardens, or even (if you must!) your lawn.

18. Skip the garbage disposal: Start composting your food waste, or throw it in the trash.

19. Don’t use running water to thaw frozen foods. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on the microwave.

20. Report leaks at work—taps, excessively running toilets, etc. You’ll not only save water, you’ll save your employer money and (hopefully) earn their gratitude.

For more ways to save water, check out our Conserve Water page. And if you have any tips or tricks we haven’t mentioned, let us know in the comments!