Conservation and Environmental
Polk County Utilities Water Conservation
Here you will find useful information on indoor and outdoor water conservation. We must preserve our water supply so it will be available today and for generations to come. Water conservation uses water more efficiently, saves money on utility bills and puts less demand on the county’s infrastructure, including wells and our sewage treatment facilities. To save additional water, consider the following indoor and outdoor water conservation tips and information.
Indoor Water Conservation Tips
- Store tap water in a water pitcher in the refrigerator to keep a supply of cold water.
- Give each person a designated glass or reusable water bottle so they do not use a new glass each time they want a drink. This will reduce the number of dishes to be washed.
- Use the refrigerator or microwave to thaw frozen food.
- Compost food and vegetable waste instead of using water to flush it down the garbage disposal.
- Before loading the dishwasher, scrape food particles from dishes.
- Only operate a full dishwasher. If your dishes are only slightly soiled, use the light wash cycle to save water.
- Use a faucet aerator on your sinks. They save water and make more suds.
- When hand-washing dishes, fill the rinsing sink 1/3-full instead of allowing the water to run constantly.
- Replace leaky drain plugs in sinks and repair leaky faucets.
Water Use Calculator - See how much water your home is using.
Laundry Room Tips
- Wash full loads only. If you must run a small load, use the load selector to match the water level required for the size of the load.
- Use environmentally friendly detergents that have no phosphate and are biodegradable.
- Normal and permanent press wash cycles are best for lightly soiled clothing.
- Avoid rewashing by pretreating stains.
- Check hoses on washing machines for visible bulges, cracks or leaks. Make sure your machine has at least four inches of clearance from the wall to prevent kinking. Replace black rubber hoses at least every 2 years and braided stainless steel hoses every 5 years.
- Choose new high efficiency appliances with the EPA WaterSense label. These machines use up to 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
- Install low-flow aerators, if you have faucets in your laundry room.
Helpful Tip: The laundry room accounts for 20 percent of household water use. Use cold or warm water to wash clothes. Use hot water only for very dirty loads and always use cold water for the rinse cycle.
- Toilets consume 30 to 40 percent of the total water used in homes making them the biggest water users. Installing a 1.6-gallon toilet saves an average of 2 gallons-per-flush, saving 12,000 gallons of water per year.
- Install low-flow faucet aerators and shower heads.
- Shower for 5 minutes or less.
- Replace or adjust the toilet flush handle if it is sticking regularly as this causes water to flow constantly.
- Fill the tub 1/3-full when bathing.
- Use the wastebasket for garbage, not the toilet.
- Check toilets periodically, repair leaks promptly. To check if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. If it gradually makes its way into the bowl, you have a leak.
Outdoor Water Conservation Tips Outdoor Chore Tips
- You can save water each time you wash your car by using a bucket of water instead of a hose.
- Clean your driveway, patio or sidewalk with a broom rather than a hose. Remove leaves and other debris manually from downspouts and gutters.
- Wash your car or bike over grass or gravel to prevent any soapy runoff from going directly into the storm sewer.
- Bathe your pets outdoors in an area in need of water.
- Check all of your outside taps, hoses, faucets and sprinklers for leaks. Stopping a drip can save a lot of water.
- Cover your pool with a solar cover when it is not in use. This has many advantages - it minimizes the amount of water lost to evaporation, keeps the water warm, and keeps your pool cleaner - reducing the amount of chemicals needed.
Lawn Watering Tips
- Raise your lawnmower blade so it does not cut the grass too short. Longer grass shades the soil and holds the moisture longer.
- Water lawns during the cooler morning or evening hours to minimize evaporation. It is generally better to water about once a week and provide 1 to 1.5 inches of water.
- Use the right equipment; a good stationary sprinkler or soil soaker will water a large area evenly. Avoid oscillating sprinklers; they tend to over-water at the ends when they reverse direction.
- Check hoses for leaks and replace washers in hose connectors. Leaks will cost you more money and distribute water unevenly.
- Use a hand-held sprayer to water shrubs and special plantings to control where the water goes.
- When planting new sod, place a sign in your yard near the roadway with the date the sod was planted; this may reduce the possibility of receiving a citation issued in error by either Code Enforcement or the Sheriff’s Office.
Did you know? In the warmer months, prior to summer rains, households generally use more than twice the amount of water used in the winter. This equates to about 250 gallons per person daily in warmer months compared to 100 gallons
per person daily in the winter.
Helpful Link: IFAS Irrigation Research
Rain Barrel Watering Tips
- Rain barrels are an excellent way to conserve water and save money on your water bills. Harvested rainwater is better for your lawn and garden than tap water.
- Using a rain barrel reduces water pollution by minimizing the storm water runoff, which can collect pollutants from your landscape such as nutrients, sediments, chemicals and bacteria.
- Ensure the rain barrel is equipped with an appropriate screen or cover to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the standing water.
- Rainwater from your rain barrel is great for washing the car and other outdoor water uses.
- Design your garden so rainwater from your downspouts flows directly to your plants.
Remember, water from your rain barrel is not suitable for drinking.
Garden Watering Tips
- Plants are happiest when they receive an even supply of water throughout the growing season.
- The best time to water your garden is in the early morning or in the late evening so the sun does not scorch wet leaves.
- Plants in containers use more water than in-ground gardens because the soil dries much faster.
- Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Bark, organic mulch or peat moss slows down evaporation and helps keep the soil moist.
- When possible, use native or other low-water use plants. Check with your local nursery for the best native or low-water use plants.
- To decrease the risk of over-watering try grouping plants with similar water needs together.
- Water your plants by hand, a soaker hose or other water-efficient irrigation systems.
Helpful Tip: Producing your own food in your backyard is a fantastic sustainable practice any homeowner can do. You increase the connection between yourself and the food you eat.
Helpful Links: Polk County Utilities Florida Friendly Garden Rain Gardens hold rainwater for your yard and keep pollution out of lakes and streams.
- Soil that contains compost retains water more readily than regular soil.
- Compost improves the quality of your soil. It contains a wide range of plant nutrients and trace elements required for healthy plant growth. Backyard composting also reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill.
- Up to 50 percent of household waste is organic and can be made into compost instead of putting it into the garbage.
- Select a level area for your compost bin that has good water drainage and is partially shaded for best results.
- Keep your compost pile moist by sprinkling water on it when it is dry. It should be as damp as a well-wrung sponge.
- Materials that can not be composted are dairy products, animal or human waste, peanut butter or oil-based products, fish meats, bones, fats, weeds with mature seeds, barbecue charcoal and diseased or insect infested plants.
Helpful Tip: Adding compost to your soil is a great way to enhance the water efficiency of your landscape.
Helpful Link: Backyard composting will help hold moisture and fertilizers.
- Consider replacing your grass with drought-resistant native plants and ground cover. You will save money and time maintaining it.
- Pull weeds by hand when the soil is moist.
- The best time to water your lawn or garden is the early morning. Avoid watering in the late evening, which can cause long periods of dampness increasing the risk of disease and fungus. In general, avoid watering during the day as well as on windy days.
- Consider using a drip or trickle irrigation system for landscaped areas and flower beds or use a soaker hose to water your garden beds. Watering deeply but infrequently promotes the production of deeper roots in plants.
- Purchase a rain gauge to determine how much rain or irrigation your yard has already received each week.
- Avoid watering the street, sidewalks and driveways.
Helpful Tip: Water your lawn and gardens only when necessary and according to municipal by-laws.
Information from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences:
Stormwater System Tips
- Do not pour anything down the road drain that you would not want to put directly into a river, lake or stream.
- Limit the amount of fertilizers you use on your lawn and garden. Use natural weed and pest controls.
- Ensure your vehicle is not leaking any fluids such as oil.
- Collect and properly dispose of grass clippings, leaves, twigs, stones and pet wastes.
- Develop a rain garden in your yard.
- Wash your car at a car wash where water is recycled or on a grassy patch of your property so water is absorbed into the soil. Use eco-friendly cleansers to wash your car.
- Increase the ability of your property to catch rainwater by providing permeable surfaces like gravel and vegetation around your house allowing groundwater and local lakes to replenish while reducing the strain on the stormwater system.
Helpful Tip: Stormwater is not treated, it is up to all Polk County residents to ensure that only clean water goes into the storm sewer.