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Water Conservation Tips
How does the average person metro area use water? Many people believe that industry is the major source of water consumption, but industry only accounts for 3 percent water usage and commercial use accounts for 21 percent. Single family houses, at 43 percent, consume the most water in the region. When you add that to the 12 percent that is used in multi-family residences, that means that residents in the area use more than half (55 percent) the water the metro area consumes in their homes.
We have a finite supply of water in metro Atlanta. Unlike many major metropolitan areas, metro Atlanta is not located on a major body of water. In fact, if we do not begin to use water more efficiently, we are expected to run out by the year 2030.
Where do you fit in?
By assessing your personal water use, whether at home, work or school, you can be water wise and stop being a water waster. At home during the summer, a person who uses between 65 and 80 gallons per day is using water wisely and efficiently. That figure drops to 50 to 65 gallons per person per day in the winter. The average number of gallons of water used in metro Atlanta per person per day is 91 in the summer and 70 in the winter. Anyone who uses more than 100 gallons of water per person per day in the summer or 70 gallons per person in the winter wastes water.
How much do you use? One way to find out is to look at your water meter. If your meter has a dial that you can read, read your meter at the same time on two consecutive days. Subtract the first reading from the second to see how much you use in a day. Repeat several times both during the week and on weekends and average the readings.
If you can’t read your meter, look at your water bill. Your water utility will report how much water you have used during the billing cycle. You may get it in cubic feet (CCF) or gallons. If your bill is in cubic feet (CCF), then multiply that number by 748 to get the number in gallons use have used. Divide that number by the number of days in the billing cycle and then divide by the number of people living in the home. That will tell you how much water each person uses per day.
Check for leaks in your house by first turning off all water-using fixtures. Then check the meter dial for any movement. If the meter moves when all of the water is off, then you have a leak somewhere in the home. Sudden increases or “spikes” in a water bill can also indicate leaks. The most common areas for leaks are pipes, toilets and faucets.
Water marks on floors, walls or ceilings can indicate a leak in an indoor pipe. Outside, standing water on the ground or pavement when it has not rained can indicate a broken underground pipe.
Check toilets for leaks by putting some food coloring or dye tablets in the tank. Do not flush. Wait 30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes color, you have a leak. To determine where the problem is, draw a line on the tank at the water level. Turn off the water supply to the toilet. Wait another 30 minutes. If the water level stays the same, the leak is in the refill valve or float. If the water level drops below the line, the leak is the flush valve or flapper.
There are other signs of a leaky toilet. If you have to jiggle the handle to make the toilet stop running, if you hear sounds coming from a toilet when it is not in use, if water runs over the top of the overflow or water trickles down the sides of the toilet bowl long after it’s been flushed, you may have a leak To be sure use the dye test.
Simple observation can tell you if you have a bathtub or sink faucet leak. All of those drips can add up. If you see one, replace worn washers and valve seals as soon as possible. Visit www.awwa.org/advocacy/learn/conserve/dripcalc.cfm to use the drip calculator and determine how much water those leaks can waste. Did you know? One drip a second can waste 2,000 gallons a year.
Checking and Changing Fixtures to Save Water
Your current fixtures may not be very efficient. Measure the flow rate of each faucet and showerhead in the house. To do this, you will need a plastic bag or bucket, a measuring cup and a second timer or a watch with a second hand.
Place a bag or bucket directly under the faucet or showerhead to catch the entire stream of water before turning it on. Turn the water on full blast for exactly five seconds; then turn off. Use a measuring cup to scoop the water from the bucket or bag to determine how much water was in the bag. Multiply the number of cups of water in the bag by 0.0625 to get the number in gallons.
Toilets made before 1992 may be inefficient and can use as much as five times more water than new toilets. It may be time to replace that water-consuming toilet for an ultra low flow toilet. In as few as two years it will pay for itself through savings on your water bill.
How Water Fixtures Work
Toilets work when you push the handle. The chain lifts the flapper valve (also called the stopper or tank ball), and water in the tank flows through the flush valve opening into the toilet bowl. Then water from the tank forces waste water in the toilet bowl through the trap into the main drain. Once the tank is empty, the flapper valve seals the tank and the ballcock refills it. When the tank is full, the float ball shuts off the ballcock.
The amount of water that comes out of a faucet can be controlled through an aerator. Low-flow aerators can be attached to almost any fixture and will reduce the water flow from three gallons per minute to one gallon per minute. Some have on/off levers that allow you to restrict the flow without having to turn the water off once you have adjusted it to the correct temperature. Low-flow faucet aerators work by reducing water flow and increasing pressure, then mixing air with the water as it comes from the tap. Even though you are using a lot less water, it will seem like the flow is stronger. Most hardware and plumbing stores carry them, priced at less than four dollars.
A low-flow showerhead usually works by mixing air into the water flow, which is restricted to increase the water pressure. Most showerheads purchased in stores are classified as low-flow. Read on the package how many gallons of water flows through the showerhead per minute.
· Are you on a septic system? Did you know that over 4,000 septic systems in the 16-county Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District fail every year? The Georgia Division of Public Health identifies the main reason for failure is due to excessive water use.
· A 1/8 inch hole in a metal pipe, at 40 psi (pounds per square inch) leaks 2,500 gallons of water ever 24 hours.
· A leaking toilet can use 90,000 gallons of water in 30 days.
· A dripping faucet/hose bibb can lose up to 180 gallons a month, or 2,160 gallons per year.
· About 1 in every 20 pools has a leak.
· About 1 in every 318 homes/buildings has a leak.
· A typical toilet leak at today’s rate can add $500 to a single water bill.
· Drip gauges are easy to measure how much water is wasted during a certain time.
You are billed monthly for your water/sewer usage. Click here to see a sample bill.
Still need help?
We are here to help. E-mail us here or call Customer Service at 404.658.6500.
City of Atlanta
55 Trinity Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30303