Due to drought conditions, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has asked 32 Indiana counties, including Vanderburgh County, to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 10 to 15 percent. In a letter addressed to Owners and Operators of Significant Water Withdrawal Facilities, the DNR and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have issued a Water Shortage Warning.
The objectives of the Water Shortage Warning are to:
• Prepare for a coordinated response to imminent water shortage conditions and potential water supply problems.
• Start concerted voluntary conservation measures.
• Avoid or reduce water shortages and relieve stressed water sources.
• Anticipate the need for mandatory water use restrictions.
Although the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility is keeping up with current demands for water within its service area, the Water Shortage Warning serves as a reminder to all citizens that every effort should be made to conserve water whenever possible. Listed below are some conservation tips that everyone can follow.
Bathroom — where more than half of all water use inside the home takes place:
• Don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth.
• Take short showers instead of tub baths. Turn off the water while soaping or shampooing.
• If you must use a tub, close the drain before turning on the water and fill the tub only half full. Bathe small children together.
Kitchen and laundry — simple practices save a lot of water:
• Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
• Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin. Use a vegetable brush.
• Don’t use water to defrost frozen foods; thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
• Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher. Wash only full loads.
• Add food wastes to your compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.
• Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
Equipment — high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances save about 30 percent of indoor water use; help save on water, sewer and energy bills:
• Consider purchasing high-efficiency toilets or place a plastic container filled with water in the tank of your conventional toilet. Be sure it does not interfere with operation of the toilet’s flush mechanisms.
• Install low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads.
• Repair leaks. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day. To detect leaks in the toilet, add food coloring to the tank water. If the colored water appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking.
• Consider purchasing a high-efficiency washing machine, which can save over 50 percent in laundry water and energy use.
Lawn maintenance – conserving water outside. Depending on climate, up to 75 percent of a home’s total water use during the growing season is for outdoor purposes. (During drought conditions outdoor watering restrictions may be imposed, so some of the following tips will not apply.):
• Detect and repair all leaks in irrigation system.
• Water the lawn or garden during the coolest times of day (early morning is best). Don’t water on windy days.
• Set sprinklers to water the lawn or garden only – not the street or sidewalk.
• Install moisture sensors on sprinkler systems.
• Water trees and shrubs, which have deep root systems, longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants that require smaller amounts of water more often. Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
• Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and cut down on weed growth.
• Remove thatch and aerate turf to encourage movement of water to the root zone.
• Raise your lawn mower cutting height – longer grass blades help shade each other, reduce evaporation and inhibit weed growth.
• Minimize or eliminate fertilizing, which promotes new growth needing additional watering.
• When outdoor use of city or well water is restricted during a drought, use the water from the air conditioning condenser, dehumidifier, bath or sink on plants and the garden. Don’t use water that contains bleach, automatic-dishwashing detergent or fabric softener.
Other outdoor water conservation measures:
• Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing off.
• Wash the car with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
• When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
• Avoid using recreational water toys, which require a constant stream of water.
• Consider purchasing a new water-saving swimming pool filter.
• Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when the pool is not being used.
• Don’t install or use ornamental water features unless they recycle the water. Use signs to show the public that water is recycled. Don’t operate during a drought.