U.S. Water News Online
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- From washing the car to watering the
lawn, consumers tend to use more water during the summer than they do
during other seasons.
But learning to use water efficiently will keep a lot of your
money from going down the drain when bill time rolls around.
"There are lots of little steps we can all take to add up to
savings," said Anthony Swinger, spokesman for the Indiana Office of
Utility Consumer Counselor.
Not only will consumers help themselves by reducing their water
bills, but they can help the environment as well.
"Water is a precious commodity," Swinger said.
Even those who use wells and septic systems can benefit from water
"Any time you reduce the amount of liquid going into your septic
system, you will make it last longer," said Marc Nelson,
environmental health manager for the St. Joseph County Health
For the South Bend Water Works, billing units are measured in
increments of one hundred cubic feet, with one CCF equaling 748
Cynthia Williams, office manager for South Bend Water Works, said
the average bill for a customer depends on factors such as meter
size, family composition and water usage.
When it comes to lowering your bill, taking little steps to change
how you consume water is one of the simplest ways to make a
difference. The first thing you should do is check regularly for
leaks around your home or business and immediately make any needed
"Individuals are not tuning in sometimes to leaks, which causes a
higher consumption, which causes more money for the customer,"
To avoid wasting water, you should check three specific areas for
leaks -- faucets, toilets and the underground supply line between
your meter and your home or business, according to the OUCC.
A running toilet is one of the biggest problems people overlook,
said Andy Wierzbicki, special projects manager for South Bend Water
To check for a toilet leak, all you have to do is put a few drops
of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 15 to 20 minutes before
flushing. If any food coloring appears in the bowl before you flush,
it's a sign that the toilet needs to be repaired.
And to ensure you have no hidden supply line leaks, just turn off
all faucets and water-using appliances, read your meter, avoid using
water for at least an hour, and then read your meter again.
Taking such steps is important because even a small leak can waste
a large amount of water. For example, a faucet that drips once per
second will waste 260 gallons of water if it remains unrepaired for a
month, Swinger said.
A toilet leak can waste hundreds of gallons per day.
And for those who live outside the reach of city utilities, a
running faucet or toilet can destroy a septic system, Nelson said.
In addition to fixing leaks, consumers can conserve water by
replacing old toilets with newer, more efficient models, installing
water-efficient showerheads, taking showers instead of baths, and
turning off the faucet when shaving or brushing teeth.
The OUCC also suggests allowing water to collect in a pitcher if
you need to run a faucet while waiting for the water to turn hot. The
water you collect can then be used for drinking or watering plants.
Consumers should also try to run dishwashers and washing machines
only when they are full, and make sure the machines are set to the
proper water levels while in use.
And when it comes to watering the lawn -- one of the largest
drivers of water bills -- consumers should avoid doing so on windy
days and should do so in the early morning or after dark.
"If you water during the day, some of that water's going to
evaporate, and you're not going to get the maximum effect," Swinger
And make sure you're not running hoses all night, Williams said.
In addition, don't put your sprinkler on a timer. When it rains,
having sprinklers running will only waste water, Wierzbicki said.
For those who enjoy landscaping, it is also wise to check with a
local nursery for recommendations on the types of trees and plants
that use less water.
Overall, local customers have been pretty efficient when it comes
to water consumption, Williams said.
And though many water-saving tips are common sense, it never hurts
to have a basic reminder, Swinger said.
"We want people to have this information and be able to put it to
good use," he said.
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