Our Water... It's Too Valuable to Waste
A Guide to Residential Water Conservation by:
Mable K. Haralson and Ruth Sheard
Water is one of our most vital and valuable natural resources. It is the basis of life and its
abundance or scarcity determines our quality of life.
It is easy to take water for granted. An ample supply of safe and inexpensive water has always
been ours with the turn of a tap. We play in and on the hundreds of miles of streams and
thousands of acres of lakes in South Carolina. We accept the non-essential use of water as
aesthetic features- reflecting pools, fountains and waterfalls- as readily as the essential use of
water for agriculture, industry and power generation, on which life and our economy depend.
Such easy access to, and liberal use of, water has conditioned us to believe water is a limitless
resource. But hot, dry summers, the severe drought of 1986, and reports of water shortages
and/or water rationing in South Carolina and in other parts of the country serve to remind us how
limited our water resources really are.
If we want our water resources to continue to be sufficient for everyone's actual needs, we must
begin conserving our water now. This booklet tells you why water conservation is important and
what you can do to conserve water and reduce water waste in your home.
The Origin of Water
Water moves through our environment in a circular process known as the Hydrologic Cycle or
Water Cycle. The cycle is continuous, having no beginning or end. It is powered by the sun and
by gravity. The sun evaporates water from oceans, lakes, streams and the soil. All living things-
people, plants and animals- give off (transpire) water into the air. The evaporated and transpired
moisture collects in the atmosphere as clouds and falls back upon the earth as precipitation in the
form of rain, snow, hail and sleet.
Much of this precipitation is evaporated into the atmosphere even as it falls. Some of it is
transpired into the atmosphere by people, plants, and animals. The rest runs into rivers or soaks
into the ground. In either case, water eventually returns to the ocean... starting the cycle over
Thus, our water is both a renewable and a limited resource. Renewable because it flows through
our environment in an unending cycle and limited because the water in the water cycle today is all
the water we will ever have. Earth is the only planet in our galaxy known to have water. This
means there is no place we can go for more. We must conserve what we have.
Water is found both on and below the surface of the earth. Water which collects in openings and
cracks in rock below the earth's surface, in systems called aquifers, is referred to as ground water.
Water collecting and/or flowing on the face of the earth, in lakes and streams, is surface water.
About 66 percent of the water South Carolinians use in their homes each day comes from surface
er. The remaining 34 percent comes from wells drilled into underground aquifers.
Breakdown of Total Water
The oceans contain 97 percent of the earth's water. Although prehistoric people sometimes
obtained the salt they needed by evaporating it out of seawater, without expensive treatment there
is not much modern man can do with saltwater except sail on it and swim, fish, or dive into it.
The remaining 3 percent is freshwater, some two-thirds of which is tied up in glaciers and polar
ice caps, leaving less than 1 percent of the world's available water as freshwater. But, because of
poor quality, less than half of it is fit to drink! The existence of all the world's people and all
other forms depend on less than one-half of one percent of the earth's total supply of water!
South Carolina has a great deal of water. We have over 14,000 miles of rivers; more than 1,400
ponds and lakes of at least 10 acres in size; and 16 lakes or reservoirs larger than 1,000 acres
(S.C. Water Resources Commission, "Inventory of Lakes in South Carolina- Ten Acres or More
in Surface Area," Report 119, 1974). Our ground water supply includes six known aquifers-
three of them major aquifers- in the Coastal Plain. Ground water also exists in the Piedmont, but
it has not yet been fully identified and mapped.
We are not likely to run out of water, at least not in the near future. But we must realize water is
out most limited natural resource and prepare now to meet the future needs of our population,
industry, and agriculture. We have, and will continue to have, sufficient water to use, but not
enough to waste.
How Do We Use Our Water?
Water in South Carolina is used in a variety of ways. Our population has grown from 2,603,800
people in 1970, to 3,129,500 in 1980, to 3,347,000 in 1985. The projected population figure for
1990 is 3,622,400, and the per person demand for water is keeping pace with this growth (South
Carolina Statistical Abstract, 1985).
According to preliminary estimates, South Carolinians use almost 6.4 billion gallons of water each
day; an approximate 500 percent increase in the last thirty years! The generation of electricity
uses 77.1 percent- 4.9 billion gallons a day.* Industry uses 17.1 percent- 1.1 billion gallons a day
for services and in the production of goods. People use 5.2 percent- 338 million gallons daily for
bathing, cooking, cleaning, watering lawns gardening, and other domestic uses. Agriculture uses
0.6 percent- some 38 million gallons for irrigation during the growing season and for watering
It is true that the amount of water saved by one person's, or one family's, water conservation
efforts is but a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous amounts of water required by power
generation and industry. But small savings multiplied by the efforts of thousands of South
Carolinians can save substantial amounts of water each day.
By conserving water now, we will have a sufficient amount for the increasing population,
expanding industry, and more intensive agriculture in our future.
*Much of this water is not consumed but is returned to streams for reuse.
What Causes Water Shortages?
Water shortages can be caused by drought, lack of precipitation, and pollution.
Drought is a long period of dryness, usually occurring during the summer, when there is little or
no rainfall. Droughts may cause surface water to dry up, and if severe enough, cause levels of
ground water to fall below pumping range. A drought this severe has far-reaching consequences.
Lack of water causes crops to fail and livestock to lose weight. Industries using water for
cooling, or in production, may have to lay off workers and close temporarily. Air conditioning
use increases during summer droughts so more electricity is generated. And people tend to need
more water during a drought, for watering lawns and gardens, more frequent showering, or just
Lack of Precipitation:
Lack of precipitation during the winter and spring can cause water shortages the following
summer, even though summer rainfall is normal or above normal. Winter and spring are South
Carolinas wettest seasons, the time when our ground water systems are recharged and reservoirs
filled. Thus, a dry winter and/or spring has the potential for causing water shortages the following
Since pollution is a major cause of poor water quality, it can cause both temporary and long-term
water shortages. There are two basic types of water pollution:
Point - The source of the pollution is specific. For example, a pipe that dumps sewage or waste into a lake or stream.
Non-point - The source of the pollution is general. For example, runoff from agricultural and urban areas which carries soil, chemicals, solvents and other materials into a lake
Lakes and streams have a limited natural ability to rid themselves of impurities, but it is a very
slow process and some impurities can never be removed. Prior to our industrial expansion,
population growth and the increased use of chemicals, lakes and streams could handle small
amounts of wastes without harmful effects on water supplies. Now, however, the self-cleaning
process cannot cope with the amounts and types of wastes being discharged into lakes and
streams. Our wastewater must be cleaned at treatment plants before being returned to a lake or
stream. Wastewater treatment plants are expensive to build, and large amounts of energy are
needed to treat and move the wastewater- resulting in higher costs and higher taxes.
Short term, pollution caused water shortages include those caused by floods, when water for
restricted use must be trucked into affected communities. Long-term, pollution caused water
shortages have occurred in some areas of coastal South Carolina when ground water is pumped
out faster than it is replenished and saltwater replaces the freshwater in the wells. New and
deeper wells must be drilled or new sources of water must be found.
Drought and Pollution:
A combination of drought and pollution can cause a water shortage. Drought reduces
streamflow, leaving insufficient water for diluting normally acceptable amounts of pollutants. The
pollutants become concentrated, making the water unsuitable for drinking. Only a period of
steady rain can solve this type of water shortage.
Water Quality Requirements:
Even in cases when the water quality meets primary or health related standards, public objection
to aesthetic standards such as taste, color, or odor could eliminate large amounts of usable water
Water shortages can also occur when the sudden demand of new industry, or a large increase in
population, is too much for an existing water and sewer system. Finding additional water, and
increasing freshwater and sewer capacity, solves the problem.
Whatever the cause of a water shortage, its severity is magnified by waste. Water conservation
can postpone, but not prevent, water shortages. But lack of conservation can, and will, increase
both the frequency and severity of present and future water shortages.
ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?
Of course there are alternatives. Some of these alternatives are either currently in use or in an
experimental stage. But, as with most new technology, they are extremely expensive.
Southern California brings most of its water from hundreds of miles away in open canals;
therefore, this State must start with twice as much water as they need to allow for evaporation
along the way.
Saudi Arabia has experimented with towing icebergs from Antarctica to provide needed
Most of the world's navies have on-board desalinization plants which convert saltwater to
freshwater while underway. Use of this freshwater is severely restricted. Water runs less than a
minute during a "navy shower," but there are still an equivalent 80 hours of showers each day
aboard our largest aircraft carriers.
WATER CONSERVATION - The Most Practical Alternative
Water Conservation is:
- intelligent, equitable, efficient use and reuse of water so that we will have sufficient water for our current and future needs;
- new types of turbines and reuse of water at hydro or steam generating plants;
- industries cleaning and recycling water many times, then cleaning it again, before returning it to our streams;
- farmers investing in underground irrigation systems so crops can get the moisture they need, where they need it, without wasting water; and
- water conservation is people- South Carolinians- saving millions of gallons of water each month just by not wasting so much!
The need for water conservation is urgent. And the time for water conservation is now.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS -- INDOORS
The bathroom is where you can save the most water.
- Toilets require the most water in the bathroom. Install a water-saving
device in your toilet tank (see "Water Saving Devices").
- If you are building or remodeling a bathroom, install a water-saving
toilet which uses only 2 1/2 to 5 gallons per flush instead of the usual 5 to 7 gallons.
- Don't use the toilet as a trash basket to flush away cotton balls, facial tissues, cigarette butts and other small bits of trash. Use an ashtray or wastebasket to discard trash and save 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush.
- Superinse toilets require only 1 gallon of water per flush. This type of toilet is intended for use in any application where a conventional water closet may be used and particularly in instances where water is in short supply or where a reduced water volume of sanitary wastewater is desirable or required.
- Superinse is listed for use under the Basic Plumbing Code, the Standard Plumbing Code, and the Uniform Plumbing Code. Superinse toilets have only two moving parts- a Fluid master fill valve and a Johnny Hush flush ball. Superinse does not require any pumps, monitors or compressors to assist in flushing.
Bathing and Showering:
- Bathing and showering are second only to toilets as large consumers of water.It takes approximately 25 gallons of water for an average tub bath. And most older-model showerheads use an average 8-10 gallons per minute, meaning a five-minute shower uses 40-50 gallons of water! You can conserve water by bathing in a partially-filled tub or by taking shorter showers or ones using less water.
- Adjust your present showerhead to it's finest spray.
- Install a flow-reducing device in your present showerhead; install in-line flow-reducing adapters for the shower and bathtub.
- Replace your present showerhead, consider one of the new Automatic Super Water Saver Showerheads which uses only 2 gallons per minute.
- Adjust hot water temperatures 10 degrees lower than usual to discourage lengthy showers.
- Turn water off while soaping up, turn on again to rinse.
- When shampooing, turn water off while soaping, turn on again to rinse. Or shampoo in a basin or sink, using a hand-held sprayer.
- Close the bathtub drain before running water instead of waiting for the hot water to arrive.
- Bathe tots and toddlers together- makes a mess, but they love it and it saves water.
- It takes approximately 2 gallons of water for washing face/hands.
- Install an aerator on the end of the faucet.
- Install a flow restrict or in waterlines to sink and basin faucets.
- Turn off water while shaving. Rinse razor in small amount of water in the basin. Use an electric razor or grow a beard.
- Turn water off while brushing your teeth. Wet the toothbrush, and fill a glass to rinse.
- Use paper cups in bathroom dispensers that are no larger that three-ounces.
- Remove ice trays from the freezer a few minutes before needed to allow cubes to loosen at room temperature and avoid the use of several quarts of water.
- Replace metal trays with plastic ones.
- Keep drinking water in the refrigerator, instead of running rap water until cool for each drink.
- Thaw frozen foods in refrigerator, instead of thawing under running water.
- Peel all food items, then rinse, instead of rinsing each one separately.
- Scrape, instead of rinsing dirty dishes; or wipe them with a paper napkin (used for the meal); or soak in a small amount of water.
- Use disposable food service items.
- To conserve water when using:
- -a double sink: use one sink for washing, one for rinsing;
- -a single sink: wash in the sink, rinse in a plastic dishpan;
- -a sink spray attachment: rinse dishes after stacking them in a dish drainer.
Look for water efficiency, as well as energy efficiency when you buy a
dishwasher. Some energy-efficient dishwashers use only 8-10 gallons of water
for a regular cycle.
A basic or "stripped-down" dishwasher uses 11-14 gallons for a regular cycle.
The more convenient a dishwasher is, the more water it uses. For instance,
"Extra Scrub" features (for pots and pans) use an additional 10-14 gallons of
water. "Rinse" features use an additional 3-5 gallons of water.
- Run the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded.
- Wash large pots, pans, and baking equipment by hand in the sink.
Garbage Disposal or Grinder:
- A garbage disposer takes a substantial amount of water. You can minimize its use by disposing of the garbage with other solid waste in the family trash or bury it.
- A solid waste compactor offers the home owner a better way to dispose of garbage than grinding it through the drain.
- Most automatic washers, depending on load size, use approximately 20-40 gallons of water for a complete wash-rinse cycle.
- Permanent press "Cool-Down" cycles use one-third more water.
- When buying a new washer, select one with load size selector and variable water level controls.
- Wash only full loads, or the full amount for each load size.
- Use a pre-soak product or a small amount of detergent and pre-soak heavily-soiled items in a tub or pan instead of using the washer's "soak" cycle.
- If a soak cycle is necessary for you, use only enough water to barely cover the clothes. Agitation is not necessary in soaking clothes.
- For most-efficient rinsing, use only a minimum amount of low-sudsing biodegradable detergent. Wash water needs only to feel slippery between your fingers for efficient cleaning.
- Cold water rinses remove soapsuds more efficiently than warm water rinses.
And using cold water for rinsing eliminates the need for special "cool-down" rinses for permanent press fabrics.
- Most washing machine manufacturers also make "suds-saver" washers which re-use hot, soapy wash one or more times. However, "suds-saver" machines need an adjacent laundry tub for storing washwater during rinse and spin cycles. "Suds-saver" machines cost more, but save on energy costs and laundry supplies.
- Front-loading washing machines use 10-22 gallons of water, depending on load size, for a complete wash water and rinse cycle. In front-load machines a cold first rinse and spray rinses are automatic, eliminating the need for "cool-down" rinse cycles.
- If your washer drains into a laundry tub, reuse some of the washwater for scrubbing floors.
- Pre-soaking hand-washables means less water used for washing and rinsing.
- Add soap and use the rinse water from the first batch of hand washables to wash a second batch.
- Put a plug in the sink or basin instead of letting the water run.
HOUSEHOLD CLEANING TIPS
- Don't use running water for cleaning. Instead, use a tub, bucket, or basin.
- Scrub basement or utility room floors on washday (see washwater reuse hints.)
- Use a sponge mop instead of rag/string types. This type mop requires less water for mopping, and cleans up more quickly.
- Spray barbecue grills and oven parts with oven cleaner and "soak overnight in a plastic bag." Later, use a scouring pad to remove the remaining grime.
- Wash outsides of windows with spray-on cleaners or use a bucket of water, instead of hosing them off.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS -- OUTDOORS
- Install flow restrictors in outside faucets.
- Clean patios, walks, and drives with a broom, instead of a water hose.
- Place a pistol-grip nozzle on your water hose, or one that shuts off automatically when hose is dropped.
- Don't let children play with the hose.
- If children want to cool off, set up the sprinkler and water the lawn and kids at the same time.
- When children have finished with the water in a wading pool, use it for watering shrubs and flowers.
- Keep watering schedule flexible. After a heavy rain, don't water lawn until it needs it. Interrupt your automatic sprinkler system , if necessary.
- Check outside taps daily to see that they are turned off when not in use. If children frequently leave the hose or spigot running, turn it off and remove the spigot handle.
- Check shut-off valves for leaks at least once a year. Make sure all faucets are turned off completely each time they are used.
- Replace washers on dripping faucets and showers immediately.
- Replace damaged or leaking sprinkler heads on underground sprinkling system.
- Use a hose to wet the car down.
- Wash one section at a time, using a bucket or tub of soapy water.
- Use a hose to briefly rinse each section.
- Use remaining water in bucket to clean hubcaps and whitewalls.
- Finish with a quick hose down of entire car.
- Do not fill the pool beyond the level where minimal splashing and spillover occur.
- Cover the pool when not in use to prevent evaporation, minimize replenishment, and keep it cleaner.
- Do not drain the pool unless repairs are needed.
Most southern grasses can tolerate short periods of drought without damage. Bermuda grass and
At. Augustine grass should be watered at the first signs of stress since lack of water creates weed
and insect problems for these grasses. Centipede grass in full sun may also need early watering,
but under shaded conditions it frequently survives without being watered. For Bahia grass, the
most drought-tolerant of southern grasses, excessive watering under any conditions leads to weed
problems. It is time to water your lawn when:
- It has spots of a bluish color;
- footprints remain on the grass long after being made;
- grass blades "crunch" underfoot;
- many leaf blades are folded in half;
- a root zone sample is dry.
Watering Tips For Lawn:
- To avoid excessive evaporation and ensure that grass is dry before night, water lawn early in the morning.
- To allow seepage into the root zone and prevent runoff, water lawn slowly.
- Position your sprinklers so you only water lawns and shrubs and not paved areas.
- Keep your watering schedule flexible. Following heavy rains, don't water your lawn until it needs it; if necessary, interrupt your automatic sprinkler system.
- Reduce water flow in the sprinkler system to what the root zone can actually absorb.
- In hot weather, raise mower blade so grass is cut a little higher. They extra height shades and cools the soil, and protects roots from dehydration.
Trees and Shrubs:
- Water your plants according to their need, instead of automatically.
- Water in the morning when it is cool and winds are calm.
- Trees and shrubs benefit from drip irrigation or soaking. Install a drip irrigation system, or use a soaker hose, upside down. Watering this way makes every drop count.
- Mulch trees and shrubbery thickly to hold moisture, keep soil cool, and control weeds and erosion.
- Native trees, shrubs and plants are well-adapted to the climate and more drought-tolerant than exotic types.
- Use drought-tolerant ground covers or ground-hugging shrubs on slopes and steep banks to prevent erosion. Shade the soil, and reduce water need.
- Put gutters and downspouts on your house, then channel the rainwater away from foundations through perforated tubing installed under shrubbery and flower beds. The water's free, and there is no evaporation loss.
- Water slowly, deeply, and only when necessary.
- Organize plantings so that much of your garden is our of production during annual hot, dry periods.
- Plant in closely-spaced double rows, with wider spaces between adjacent double rows. The thicker growth shades and cools the soil, and slows the rate of evapotranspiration.
- Mulch bare ground areas heavily.
- If you drill a well to accommodate a water-to-air heat pump system, utilize its water for watering the lawn and garden and other uses where drinking water purity is not necessary.
Steps in Detecting and Repairing Minor Toilet Leaks
Steps in Detecting General Hidden Leaks:
1. To detect a toilet leak, place a few drops of laundry bluing or food coloring in the toilet tank and let it stand for 15 minutes.
2. Check toilet bowl. If the color has filtered through, you have a leak.
3. Check the plunger ball (flapper). It probably needs cleaning or replacement.
4. If there is a trickling sound and the plunger ball does not fit tightly into the hole at the bottom of the tank, lift it and lower its position by screwing it down a few turns on its wire. If that doesn't work; replace it.
5. If the flush handle sticks in "flush" and keeps the water running, adjust the plunger ball or replace it.
6. If the float arm rides too high, bend the arm down until the water no longer flows into the vertical overflow tube.
7. If the float arm rides too low in the water, and the water in the toiler runs continuously, lift it. If the ball is heavy, replace it as it probably has a leak.
8. If the Ballcock Valve does not shut off automatically when the float arm is fully elevated, it is probably worn out and needs replacing. If so, replace it with an adjustable Ballcock Valve which eliminates the float ball arm and saves water.
1. Locate your water meter.
2. Turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and water-using devices.
3. Record the meter reading.
4. After 30 minutes, read the meter again paying particular attention to any movement of the small dial.
5. If the reading has changed or the needle has moved, you have a leak.
6. Find the leak and have it repaired, or call a plumber to locate and repair the leak.
Some meters record only large quantities of flow (and leaks) so you may have to conduct a longertest.
Leaks are a major source of wasted water which can be greatly reduced by locating and repairing all leaks in faucets, toilets and other water using appliances. It is estimated that:
- A slow leak wastes 15 gallons a day.
- A 1/32 inch leak wastes 25 gallons a day.
- A 1/16 inch leak wastes 100 gallons a day.
- A 1/8 inch leak wasted 4000 gallons a day.
The cause of a leaky faucet is probably a worn washer which needs replacing. A loose washer
often causes "chatter" so be sure that it is tightly screwed on. If the faucet continues to leak after
replacing the washer, the faucet seat or stem is probably worn out. To change a washer:
- 1. shut of the main or room water supply;
- 2. loosing the packing nut and screw out the stem (wrap adhesive tape on the nut to prevent wrench scarring);
- 3. remove and replace the worn washer at the bottom of the stem (you only need a screw driver and the right size washer which costs just a few cents at a hardware store.)
WATER SAVING DEVICES
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources - Water Resources Division is not in a position to recommend one product
over another; however, the Division has reviewed, and included in this publication,
information on water saving devices from local appliance dealers. This agency recommends that
you contact a local dealer to determine the types of water saving devices that are available in your
area. Your plumber can advise you of the most appropriate kinds of flow reduction devices for
your system. In almost every case, these devices can be expected to pay for themselves in terms
of water savings and resultant lowering of volume on which customer rates are based.
Commercial water saving devices, such as flow restrictors, are readily available at hardware
stores, home improvement centers, plumbing supplies and discount stores. These devices are
designed to reduce water flow through faucet, shower head or other outlets. The basic flow
control device may be built into the fixture or obtained as separate or as small units to adapt
existing fixtures to water saving devices. The small units are easily installed with a wrench or a
pair of pliers.
The most practical water-saving devices are those which reduce water use without causing major
disruptions in lifestyles or requiring constant attention to the amount of water being used. They
are especially effective where small children play in/with water for hours, so lang as it is not
combined with soap and a washcloth.
FAUCETS AND SHOWERS
Aerators are small screens, fitting on the ends of faucets. Flow is restricted by mixing air with
water. The water flow looks and feels full-force, but less water is being used. An aerator will
save one-half gallon of water daily.
Flow restrictors are perforated neoprene, plastic or rustproof metal discs with small openings
which reduce the amount of water flowing through them. They cost very little and can be used in
both faucets and/or shower heads. Water departments sometimes supply flow restrictors without
cost. They must be installed with the cone pointing in the direction of the water flow.
Flow Restrictors should not be installed in:
- a faucet supplying water to a clothes washer or portable dishwasher. Most of these appliances time the water fill and would not get enough water to work properly with the installation of a flow restrict or.
- a water line supplying an underground or automatic lawn sprinkling system. Reduced flow could mean your lawn doesn't get enough water, and parts of it, none at all.
Reduced water flow may cause problems with garbage disposers. If this happens, remove
ADJUSTABLE FLOW SHOWER HEAD:
The most common and least expensive type of shower head is the adjustable flow
shower head. Rotating its knob or face changes the spray from coarse to fine, increasing or reducing gallons per
minute. The finest spray uses the least amount of water.
LOW FLOW SHOWER HEAD:
The low flow shower head looks like a regular shower head but has a built-in flow restrict or. If a
shower head is replaced with a low flow type, note whether or not there is a ball joint on the
shower arm. Presence or absence of the ball joint is important in selecting the correct
Hand-held showers eliminate an overall spray and allows you to put water where you want it.
Most of these type showers have on/off buttons or switches which allow shutting water off
without affecting temperature mix. They attach to the shower arm and come equipped with a
Toilets use more water than any other fixture in the home; however, there are
many conservation measures that can save significant amounts of water.
Reducing the volume of water used to flush a toilet from the conventional 5 to
6 gallons of water to 3.5 gallons, can save up to 30,000 gallons
of water annually.
- Place a tightly closed gallon jug of water, weighted down with
pieces of red clay drain tile or other heavy rock like material in
conventional tanks to reduce water volume. Place the jug where it does not
interfere with the operation of the toilet. DO NOT PUT BRICKS OR OTHER ROCKS
DIRECTLY INTO THE TANK AS THEY MAY CRUMBLE AND DAMAGE THE TOILET.
- Water Flush Dams: Water flush dams cut the volume of water used
for flushing toilets up to 50 percent.
- This one-piece construction toilet uses only one gallon per flush.
This type of toilet saves an average of 70 gallons of water a day for
an average family of four; reduces wastewater to sewer or septic tank; and greatly lessens volume to waste treatment facilities. Supply inlet is with Fluid master ballcock and is located on right rear of tank.
HOW MUCH CAN BE SAVED?
The Water and Wastewater Department of South Carolina's Public Service Commission reports the average family, based on national figures, consumes 6,300 gallons
of water per customer per month or 942 cubic feet of water per month. This is
an example of 210 gallons per single family residence.
The Daily Average Water Use for a Family of Four (1983):
Percent Gallons Cubic Feet How Water is Used
42 102 13.6 flushing toilets
31 81.5 10.9 bathing, showering, personal
14 35.5 4.7 laundry,
11 27.5 3.7 food preparation and clean
up, including Dishwashing,
2 5.5 7 all other purposes.
For the first 300 cubic feet of water used each month, the Water Department of
the City of Columbia, South Carolina, charges a base rate of $2.10 for water
and $1.18 for sewer assessment. Each additional 100 cubic feet costs .65 for
water and .75 for sewer assessment. The average family's typical monthly water
First 300 cubic feet $2.10 $1.18
Remaining 633 cubic feet $4.10 $4.74
Total= $6.20 $5.92
Total Monthly Water Bill: $12.12
(Check with your local water department to determine your current base rate
for water and sewer assessment.}
Several facts to be noted about water usage in the average family is that more than fifty percent of
the water bill is "sewer assessment." This is the charge for treating wastewater to make it clean
enough to return to the lakes and streams. Sewer assessments are charged for the total amount of
water used each month no matter how it is used, whether it goes into the sewer or not.
If families cut down on water wasted in seven specific areas, they could effect the following
savings in gallons per year:
Note: Water conservation frequently results in higher rates because of the nature of fixed revenue
bonds. This, however, can be offset for the municipality because water conservation allows more
water and sewer taps, thus spreading costs over a higher base.
Water Saved Daily or Weekly Gallons of Water Saved a Year
Displacing a gallon of water
in a toilet tanki, six flushes 8,760
per person, 24 flushes per day.
Washing dishes by the most efficient 9,636
hand method or washing only full
loads in a dishwasher, averaging
13.2 gallons two times daliy.
Installing a 3.5 gallons per minute 14,600
restricted flow shower head, four
5-minute showers daily.
Installing aerators and/or flow
restrictors on all faucets. 1,500
Washing only full loads of clothes,
or adjusting water levels for partial 13,000
loads, saves about 250 gallons weekly.
Keeping cold drinking water in the
refrigerator in a container saves 6,750
about 18 gallons per day.
Shaving and brushing teeth without
leaving the water running, saves about 2,190
6 gallons per day.
Total Gallons Saved Per Year= 56,416
Total annual savings in cubic feet= 7,522
Savings based on typical City of Columbia Water and Sewer rates:
First 300 cubic feet $2.10 $1.18
Remaining 7,222 cubic feet $48.89 $56.42
TOTAL ANNUAL SAVINGS on water and sewer rates...............$108.59
This is not all of the money the average family could save practicing water conservation. There
are additional, and greater, savings on the energy needed to heat water. There are also small
savings on property taxes since water conservation extends the useful lives of water and sewage
treatment facilities. And there is the added benefit of protecting the lakes and streams because the
volume of treated wastewater being discharged into them is recharged.
RESIDENTIAL WATER USE ADULT
This survey is designed to increase awareness of how you use water and show where you can
eliminate wasteful use of water. In each section there is space for making notes on how you can
conserve water in specific areas of your home.
NOTE: Save energy. When you measure faucet flow rates for this audit, only use cold water.
To Measure Rate of Flow:
1. Adjust the shower's flow as you normally would.
2. Using a gallon container, measure the flow for 15 seconds.
3. Each quart measured represents one gallon flow per minute.
Example: If the container is full after 15 seconds, you have measured
4 quarts. Each quart represents one gallon per minute flow, so the four
quarts = 4 gallons per minute flow.
If the container fills before the 15 seconds are up, empty it and
remeasure the flow for 5 seconds. Multiply the measured amount by 3 to
get the 15-second flow rate.
4. Round off the flow rate to the nearest whole number. Put that number in space A.
5. Estimate, or time, the number of minutes spent on showering. Put that number in space B.
6. Multiply flow rate (A) by shower time (B) to find the number of gallons used for an average shower. Put that number in space C.
7. Multiply number of gallons used by the number of showers your family takes each day (D).
A (flow rate)x B (minutes) = C (gallons used) x D(number of showers)=E (TOTAL)
E represents the amount of water your family uses each day for showering
1.Measure the depth of tub. Make small marks indicating levels where the tub
would be 1/4, 1/3, «, and 2/3 full.
2.Use this table to estimate the amount of water used for bathing.
1/4-tub full = 10 gallons
1/3-tub full = 15 gallons
«-tub full = 20 gallons
2/3-tub full = 28 gallons
3.Multiply the amount of water used by the number of baths your family takes
The average person uses about 21 gallons of water daily for bathing or
showering. Compare your water use to this average.
Can you reduce water use?
Can you put a Water Flow Restrict or Low Flow Shower head on your shower?
Can you spend less time showering?
Can you use less water per bath?
Other water conservation measures you can take:
1. Put the number of gallons per flush in space A. If you know your toilet is a water-saving fixture, use 3.5 gallons per flush. If you don't have a water-saving toilet, use 6.5 gallons per flush.
2. If you are using a water-conservation device (a jug or bag of water, etc.), put the amount of water displaced- rounded off to the nearest quart- in space B.
3. Allow each family member six flushes per day. Multiply the number in family by 6. Put
this number in space D.
A(gallons per flush)x B(amount displaced)= C(total gallons per flush)x D(total number of flushes) = E(total usage)
Can you reduce water use?
Can you install a water displacement device?
Can you install an adjustable Ballcock?
Have you made sure your toilet isn't leaking?
(see Water Conservation Tips)
Other water conservation measures you can take:
AUTOMATIC CLOTHES WASHER
1. How many loads of clothes do you wash each week?
2. How many of those are permanent press loads?
3. How many are full loads?
4. How many are partial loads?
5. Is your washer a:
6. Does your washer have adjustable water level settings or a lead selector switch?
- top loading model
- front loading model
On normal cycles, top-loading washers use about 44 gallons of water for a full load of clothes; on permanent press cycles, they use 51 to 55 gallons for a full load because of the extra rinse and cool down features.
On normal cycles, front-loading washers use about 29 gallons of water for a full load of clothes; on permanent press cycles they use 30-33 gallons for a full load.
Can you reduce water use?
Estimate gallons saved per week by washing only full loads and/or using correct cycle and
water level settings
Other water conservation measures you can take:
1. How many loads of dishes do you wash each week? (A)
2. How many of those are partial loads?
3. Does your dishwasher have a soak or pre-wash setting?
No matter the size of the load, dishwashers use 10.5-16 gallons of water to complete a full
cycle, more if a pre-wash feature is selected.
Multiply your total number of loads per week, counting partial loads as full ones, (A) times and average 14.5 gallons per load.
A(loads per week)x(average gallons per week) = (total gallons per week)
Can you reduce water use?
Estimate gallons saved per week by washing only full loads
Other water conservation measures you can take:
Dishwashing by Hand
1. How often do you wash dishes each day? (A)
2. What dishwashing method do you use?
Method A: two sinks, one to wash, one to rinse
3. Estimate the water used each day using the table below: (B)
Method B: one sink used to wash, rinse water flows continuously from tap
Method C: water runs continuously from tap for both washing and rinsing
- Method A = 15 gallons
- Method B = 20 gallons
- Method C = 25 gallons
- * Add 3 gallons if you run fresh water halfway through the job.
- ** Subtract 5 gallons if you use a sink spray for rinsing dishes
A(times dishes washed daily)x B(gallons use per washing)= C(gallons use per day)x 7(gallonns use per week)
- Can you reduce water use?
- Can you install and aerator?
- Can you install a flow restrict or?
- Other water conservation measures you can take:
- 1. Use the procedure described in "Shower" section to measure water flow at sinks and basins. Enter rates below
Kitchen sink _________________________gallons per minute
2. For gallons per task multiply flow rate (A) times average number of minutes water runs (B) or use the average gallons per task from this table:
Bathroom basin________________________gallons per minute
Bathtub_______________________________gallons per minute
Laundry tubs__________________________gallons per minute
Brushing teeth, 1-2 gallons per person per day.
3. Multiply C times the number in family (D) to get gallons used per task per day (E).
Shaving, 2-4 gallons per person per day.
Running drinking water, 1 gallon per glass; 5 gallons per person per day.
Operating garbage disposal unit, 5 gallons per day.
Washing fruits, vegetables, 4-5 gallons per day.
Cooking, food preparation, clean up, 8-10 gallons per day.
4. Multiply E times 7 to get gallons per task per week (F)
Can you reduce water use?
Can you install aerators or flow restrictors?
Other water conservation measures you can take:
Can you apply some of your ideas for conserving water indoors to your outdoor water use? List
As we have shown throughout this booklet, South Carolina's water resources are
limited. Our portion of the water in the earth's water cycle is all we will ever have.
In the last 30 years, South Carolina's population has increased, industry has expanded and farmers
have turned to irrigation to increase yields and survive droughts. During this time, demands on
this limited resource have increased by over 500 percent. Only intelligent, efficient management
of our water resources will enable South Carolina to continue this rate of growth and its
accompanying prosperity in the future.
South Carolina's legislators enacted a Water Use Reporting Act in 1982, requiring all large water
users in the State to report how much water they use each year, and for what purpose, to the
South Carolina Water Resources Commission. Also, the Drought Response Act of 1985,
including enforceable restrictions on water use during severe droughts and other water
emergencies, was implemented to help assure that water is conserved and managed in the best
interest of South Carolinians. This legislation will help the South Carolina Resources Commission
better manage South Carolina's water resource more wisely, avoid potential water shortage, and
will assure that every citizen, corporate or private, has the water that is needed now and in the
We will continue to need legislation to support our statewide resources and management
program. We also need the continued support of all South Carolinians in conserving water by
installing appropriate water-saving devices and in taking other appropriate measures necessary to
reduce water waste in their homes.
For South Carolina's water resources, the future is in the hand that turns the tap.
- Adkins, W.W. 1981. South Carolina Water Needs From the Viewpoint of a Municipal Water
System Manager. Paper delivered 14th Annual Governor's Conference on Water Resources.
- American Water Works Assn., 1978 . 15 Things You Can Do to Prevent Water Waste.
- Channing L. Bete Co., Inc. 1981. The ABC's of Water Conservation.
- Fletcher, P.W. and W.E. Sharpe. 1978. Water Conservation to Meet Pennsylvania Water Needs.
Journal of the American Water Works Association, Vol. 70, No. 4.
- Sharpe, W.E., 1978. Municipal Water Conservation Alternatives. American Water Resources
Assn. Water Resources Bulletin, Vol. 14, No. 5.
- Sharpe, W.E., 1978 Water Conservation Fixtures and Fittings-A Look Ahead. Paper, American
Society of Sanitary Engineers Refresher Course, October.
- Soil Conservation Society of America, 1979. Water, The Basis of Life.
- South Carolina Water Resources Commission, 1977. Information Bulletin No. 8, Water Facts I.
- South Carolina Water Resources Commission, 1978. Information Bulletin No. 10, Water Facts II.
- South Carolina Water Resources Commission, 1981, South Carolina Water Use Facts, 14th Annual Governor's Conference on Water Resources.
- South Carolina Water Resources Commission, 1982. South Carolina Water Use Facts, 14th Annual Governor's Conference on Water Resources.
- South Carolina Water Resources Commission., n.d. Water, Do We Really Need It?
- South Florida Water Management District, n.d. Water Shortage Information Series No. 5. Watering Your South Florida Lawn.
- South Florida Water Management District, n.d. Water Shortage Information Series No. 6. Water-Saving Devices: Facets and Showers.
- South Florida Water Management District, n.d. Water Shortage Information Series No.8: Changing Your Water Habits.
- South Florida Water Management District, n.d. Water Shortage Information Series No. 9: Auditing Your Water Use.
- South Florida Water Management District, n.d. Water Shortage Information Series No. 10: Leaks: Stop That Thief!
- Stevenson, Lt. Gov. Nancy, 1981. Water Use Reporting and Coordination Act. Address, 14th Annual Governor's Conference on Water Resources.
- U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Water Research and Technology, 1977. Water Capsule Report Series: Residential Water Conservation.
- Viginia State Water Control Board, 1977. Information Bulletin No. 528: Water Conservation Primer: A Do-It-Yourself Guide for Water Services.
For more information on water conservation techniques, call or write:
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources