Water demand to increase, conservation tips offered

The Nolan County West Texas Groundwater Conservation District is offering "water smart tips" for water efficiency in and around the home.The Texas State Water Plan, from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), projects that by 2050, the state's population will increase by 90%, bringing total municipal water demand to increase by 67%.And even though water savings projected by conservation will stand at 13.5% by that time, only 75% of the projected water demand will meet the water supply from existing sources.While new or renovated water supplies are being constructed, the cost estimates will total around $107 billion by 2050. By taking water-safe measures and responsibilities, tax dollars can be saved and the quality of life for future generations can be protected.Simple changes around the house can be made to cut usage while maintaining water performance. Purchasing water efficient shower-heads and aerators for faucets, or repairing leaking toilets and faucets--which waste thousands of gallons of water--can help to make a difference.Many individuals are aware of conservation tips in the bathroom and the kitchen. Turning the water off while brushing your teeth, shaving and shampooing your hair are familiar facts, but others tips aren't as recognized.The TWDB suggests that people should take a shower instead of a bath because showers with water efficient shower-heads prove to use less water. As soon as the water is hot enough, jump in the shower immediately and shower quickly, using a conservative water flow.In the kitchen, run the dishwasher with a full load or use the short wash cycle for lightly-soiled dishes. Instead of rinsing dishes, dry scrape them; rather than scrubbing pans while the water runs, soak them. Use the garbage disposal for large messes only.Water tips while cooking in the kitchen include using a pan of cold water to rinse vegetables. When cooking vegetables, steam the vegetables in order to reduce water waste from boiling them in a pot of water.However, one of the areas people are unfamiliar with water conservation is in laundry. Conventional washing machines can use, per load, up to 55 gallons of water. Wash only full loads, or match the load setting on the washing machine to the coordinating amount of laundry. Use the short wash cycle if clothes are not heavily soiled.By purchasing a high efficiency washer, at least 40% less water and energy can be used. These types of washers also take out more water during the spin cycle, use less detergent and are gentler on clothing.Should a concern arise about leaks in any indoor appliance, the TWDB recommends turning the water off of all water-using appliances for about 20 minutes. Note the reading of the water meter before and after to determine if there are hidden leaks. For leaking faucets--until the repair on the leak is made, turn the valve under the sink off.Seasonally, outdoor water use can make up for more than 50% of water use during the summer. Through proper management, water use can decrease while the healthy landscape can flourish.Avoid over-watering your lawn, as one inch of water weekly will keep a majority of grasses healthy. In addition, the TWDB advises to collect rain water with a rain barrel or cistern to water plants.If using an automatic sprinkler system, service sprinkler heads regularly, set it to provide infrequent but extensive watering, install shut-off devices for when it rains, and adjust sprinklers so that only the grass is being watered (not pavement). To clean sidewalks and streets, use a broom instead.Examine and plan your watering time according to weather--never water on windy days, and water either early in the morning or late in the evening during the summer. Also during the warm weather, keep grass three inches tall. Do not cut grass over one-third of its length at any one time, and do not bag lawn clippings.Select foliage that are water-wise, well-adapted and tolerant to the various local weather climates (drought, heat, cold, etc.) and/or are native to the area. Use plenty of mulch around trees and shrubs to keep moisture in, but avoid over-fertilizing.By making these changes, the TWDB estimates that a family of four could save up to 25,000 gallons of water annually, which also results in financial savings.For more helpful tips, contact Dale Adams, the General Manager of the Wes-Tex Groundwater Conservation District (GCD) in Nolan County, at 236-6033, or by visiting the Extension office on the third floor of the Nolan County Courthouse.