- Check water consumption on your monthly bills unexpected increases may result from undetected leaks.
- Regularly check your faucets, spigots, toilets, water pipes, washing machine, and dishwasher for leaks.
- Listen carefully for the sound of running water at night when no faucets or fixtures are in use. Check for wet spots from the water meter to the residence indicating a possible underground water leak.
- Toilets are one of the most common places for leaks. Check flappers at the bottom of the tank or the fill valve malfunctioning.
- Take shorter showers.
- Don’t leave water running while brushing your teeth, shaving, etc.
- When replacing used appliances check for waterless model toilets, hand and shutoff faucets and low-flow shower heads. Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s/Department Energy’s www.energystar.gov website for water and energy efficient models.
- Know the location of the water shut-off valve for plumbing system so that you can turn off water quickly if you have a major leak.
- Sensor shut-off devices can be used to detect a major leak in your plumbing system and turn off your water automatically even when no one is at home.
- Check outdoor spigots and hoses for leaks.
- Water lawns and plants before sunrise and after sunset.
- Use hand-held spring loaded nozzles on lawn and garden hoses.
- For irrigation systems, install automatic controls and rain sensors to prevent wasteful irrigation.
- Rain or moisture sensors can be installed on irrigation system to prevent watering during or after rainfalls.
- Choose drought-resistant, non-invasive plants for your lawn.
- Use a soaker hose, bubbler, micro spray or drip irrigation system instead of the spray irrigation, which loses more water due to evaporation.
- Purchase a rain barrel or install a cistern to reuse rainwater. (Rain barrels are available in your local region).
- Use 2 to 4 inches of mulch around trees and shrubs to conserve moisture in the soil.
- Consider drought tolerant groundcover, drought tolerant grass, or landscape with trees, shrubs and mulch.
- Cut grass to a height of at least two inches (one inch for Bermuda grass) to encourage good root growth and to help shade and retain moisture in the soil. Small grass clipping are good soil enhancers.
- Encourage friends and neighbors and co-workers to be a part of a water conscious community. Report any broken pipes to your local Utility Department.
- Wash full loads of laundry or adjust your water levels for smaller loads.
- Use less water for baths or make a conscious effort to take shorter showers. (There are many water saving devices to restrict the flow, to save on conservation and cost through the City's Customer Service Department.)
- Avoid rinsing dishes one at a time with water running, rinse all together in the sink. Accumulate and wash full loads of dishes in the dishwasher.
Try to do one thing each day that will result in saving water. Remember that every drop counts and you can make a difference.
Surviving a Costly Drought
- Conserve what water your plants receive by applying 2 to 3 inches of mulch around plants and shrubs. Mulch also allows the soil to cool and prevents weeds. Fine textured mulch holds moisture much better than coarse textured mulch. Allow 2 to 3 inches from the base of trees and shrubs to prevent insects and diseases from getting to the plant.
- Water plants directly to the base of plants an Osaka hose can be used to emit water slowly into the soil. Drip systems direct moisture where you want it instead of allowing water to evaporate. Drip systems are available in various sizes and emission rates and can be adapted for use with automated irrigation systems.
- Hand held wands offer great means for placing water at the base of plants. Choose a wand with a cut-off valve to avoid wasting water as you move from area to area.
- To get directly to the root of the tree or shrub you can use portable drip irrigation called a Treegator. Filling the doughnut-shaped base with water and letting it drip.
- Lawns do require 1 inch of water during drought. (Tuna cans can help you measure, when full you are done watering). Use rain gauges to measure when your turf has had the right amount; too much or not enough water can be damaging.
- When watering those high places such as hanging baskets, you can use a Garden Coil Indoor/Outdoor Watering Wand. The lightweight coil hose can be attached to a hose or the faucet and the nozzle can be adjusted for stream, mist or spray.
- When your plants look wilted always check the soil for moisture, they wilt because of the heat not because of lack of water.
Drought Tolerant Planting
Water-Conserving versus Drought-Tolerant
Drought-tolerant plants can withstand periods of dry weather, and as we use the term water-conserving we are referring to the plant’s transpiration rate, which is the rate at which it releases moisture into the air. Drought tolerant planting is important in grouping plants in landscaping. A grouping of drought-tolerant plants, once well established, may not need irrigation at all through a normal summer.
There are many trees, shrubs and groundcovers that require little or no irrigation once they’ve become established. Crepe myrtles, Chinese and Japanese hollies, and junipers are extremely drought tolerant. Many bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus, star of Bethlehem, and alliums, are very drought tolerant because they become dormant in the summer. Herbs that come from arid climates, such as lavender, sage, rosemary, and thyme, are a good drought resistant’s. Many ornamental grasses, such as pampas grass, need little supplemental water after they’ve become established. Warm season species recommended for North Carolina are centipedegrass, zoysiagrass and Bermuda grass. By choosing a low water use grass, fertilizing lightly, mowing high and frequently and leaving the clipping on the lawn, you can develop a lawn that will become vigorous enough to offer resistance to weeds and insects on it own.
Consult your local Agricultural Extension Agent or local garden center for additional information on drought resistant planting.
Information was obtained through the University of North Carolina Water Resources Research Institute web site: http://www.ncsu.edu/wrri