The more efficient use of our precious water resources through water conservation and reuse holds a real potential to both preserve and extend limited water supplies and to save real money. The largest saver is you, consider that even a 10 to 15 percent reduction in personal water use can save on water and sewer rate payers billions of dollars over the next 50 years. However, the effort to conserve water must begin now with each individual.


For approximately $10 to $20, the average homeowner can install two low-flow showerheads, place dams or bottles in the toilet tanks, install low-flow aerators on the faucets, and repair dripping faucets and leaking toilets. This could save 10,000 to more than 25,000 gallons per year for a family of four, and would pay for itself in less than a year! Even more could be saved if good outdoor water conservation is practiced for the lawn and garden.


Turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth.

Use a glass of water for rinsing your teeth.

When shaving, use a sink filled with rinse water.

Do not let the faucet flow.

Take short showers instead of baths and consider bathing small children together.

Do not use the toilet as a trash can.

If the shower has a single hand control or shut off valve, turn off the flow while soaping or shampooing.

Refrigerate a bottle of drinking water instead of letting a faucet flow until the water is cold enough to drink.

Turn the faucet off while cleaning vegetables.Rinse them in the sink with the drain closed or in a pan of water.

If you wash dishes by hand, do not leave the faucet flowing for rinsing. Instead, use a dish rack and spray device to rinse them. If you have two sinks, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. Fill the sink with water to pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

Keep an empty container near sinks. Put it under the faucet while waiting for water to warm up. Pour any leftover water from cooking or drinking into it. Once full, use the water for gardening.

Place a bucket in the shower to catch water that is wasted while waiting for the shower water to warm up.

Take dirty water from birdbaths, flower vases or pet dishes and reuse on potted plants.

Drink bottled water instead of tap water.

Instead of using hot water to defrost foods, defrost foods in the refrigerator overnight or use a microwave.

Keep your garden weed-free, since weeds use available water in the soil.

When it rains, leave buckets outside to collect water for washing cars and watering plants and gardens.

Turn off ice-makers for refrigerators and use trays instead.

Use recyclable plates and cups to cut down on dishwashing.

If phosphate detergents or bleach are not used in the wash, rinse water from the washing machine can be used on the garden.

Position downspouts, with extensions if needed, so rain water runs onto the lawn or into the garden, not down the walk or driveway.

If a dehumidifier exists, use the water it collects to water plants and gardens.

If a water softener exists, use the regenerated wastewater to water the lawn and plants.

Install a low-flow showerhead that limits the flow from the shower to less than three gallons per minute.

Take short showers and install a cutoff valve, or turn the water off while washing and back on again only to rinse.

Take a shower instead of taking a bath. Showers with low-flow showerheads often use less water than taking a bath.

Reduce the level of the water being used in a bathtub by one or two inches if a shower is not available.

Shampoo hair in the shower. Shampooing in the shower takes only a little more water than is used to shampoo hair during a bath and much less than shampooing and bathing separately.

When remodeling a bathroom, install a new low-volume flush toilet that uses only 1.6 gallons per flush.

Test toilets for leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the water in the tank, but do not flush the toilet. Watch to see if the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes. If it does, the toilet has a silent leak that needs to be repaired.

Use a toilet tank displacement device such as a toilet dam or bag. Also, a plastic bottle can be filled with stones or water, recapped, and placed in the toilet tank. These devices will reduce the volume of water in the tank but will still provide enough for flushing. (Bricks are not recommended since they eventually crumble and could damage the working mechanism.) Displacement devices are not recommended with new low-volume flush toilets.

Never use the toilet to dispose of cleansing tissues, cigarette butts, or other trash. This wastes a great deal of water and also places an unnecessary load on the sewage treatment plant or septic tank.

Do not use hot water when cold will do. Water and energy can be saved by washing hands with soap and cold water. Hot water should be added only when hands are especially dirty.

When brushing teeth, turn the water off until it is time to rinse.

Do not let the water run when washing hands. Water should be turned off while washing and scrubbing and be turned on again to rinse. A cutoff valve may be installed on the faucet.

When shaving, fill the lavatory basin with hot water instead of letting the water run continuously.

Install faucet aerators to reduce water consumption.

Use the garbage disposal sparingly or start a compost pile.

Never run the dishwasher without a full load. This practice will save water, energy, detergent, and money.

Scrape the dishes clean instead of rinsing them before washing. There is no need to rinse unless they are heavily soiled.

Use only a little water in the pot and put a lid on it for cooking most food. Not only does this method save water, but food is more nutritious since vitamins and minerals are not poured down the drain with the extra cooking water.

Whenever possible, use the lowest water-level setting on the washing machine for light or partial loads.

Use a moisture meter to determine when house plants need water. More plants die from over-watering than from being on the dry side.

Water only when needed. Look at the grass, feel the soil, or use a soil moisture meter to determine when to water.

Do not over-water. Soil can hold only so much moisture, and the rest simply runs off. A timer will help, and either a kitchen timer or an alarm clock will do. Apply only enough water to fill the plant’s root zone. Excess water beyond that is wasted. One and a half inches of water applied once a week in the summer will keep most Texas grasses alive and healthy.

Water lawns early in the morning during the hotter summer months. Otherwise, much of the water used on the lawn can simply evaporate between the sprinkler and the grass.

To avoid excessive evaporation, use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water, rather than a fine mist. Sprinklers that send droplets out on a low angle also help control evaporation. Adjust sprinkler heads as necessary, to avoid waste, runoff and ensure proper coverage.

Set automatic sprinkler systems to provide thorough, but infrequent watering. Pressure-regulating devices should be set to design specifications. Rain shutoff devices can prevent watering in the rain.

Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs, or turn soaker hoses upside-down so the holes are on the bottom. This will help avoid evaporation.

Water slowly for better absorption, and never water on windy days.

Forget about watering the streets or walks or driveways. They will never grow a thing.

Condition the soil with mulch or compost before planting grass or flowerbeds so that water will soak in rather than run off.

Fertilize lawns at least twice a year for root stimulation, but do not over-fertilize. Grass with a good root system makes better use of less water and is more drought-tolerant.

Do not scalp lawns when mowing during hot weather. Taller grass holds moisture better. Grass should be cut fairly often, so that only 1/2 to 3/4 inch is trimmed off. A better looking lawn will result.

Use a watering can or hand water with the hose in small areas of the lawn that need more frequent watering (those near walks or driveways or in especially hot, sunny spots).

Use water-wise plants. Learn what types of grass, shrubbery, and plants do best in the area and in which parts of the lawn, and then plant accordingly. Choose plants that have low water requirements, are drought-tolerant, and are adapted to the area of the state where they are to be planted.

Consider decorating some areas of the lawn with wood chips, rocks, gravel, or other materials now available that require no water at all.

Do not "sweep" walks and driveways with the hose. Use a broom or rake instead.

When washing the car, use a bucket of soapy water and turn on the hose only for rinsing.

Learn and use waterwise concepts in your landscape.