Those who live along the coast know the drill for hurricane season. Stock up on medicine, gas, water and cash. Keep a three-day supply of everything you need handy in case the power goes out. Although water conservation is not part of the rainy season drill, it should be.
When prolonged or heavy rains saturate the ground, stormwater retention ponds may overflow and yards and streets may flood, causing sanitary sewer systems to also overflow.
Stormwater can penetrate the wastewater sewer system through leaky manhole covers, cracked or broken sewer pipes, and unauthorized connections between stormwater pipes and sewer pipes. When a sewer system is over capacity, it can overflow into the environment. We can help avoid an overflow by putting less water in the sewer system during heavy rains.
Water conservation protects an essential resource, and it can also protect our homes and our environment from overflows.
- Check faucets and pipes for leaks. A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day; larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.
- Use your dishwasher and washing machine only for full loads. When possible, avoid washing during heavy downpours.
- Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units. The units require a lot of water to operate properly and also add to the volume of solids in a septic tank, which can lead to maintenance problems. Instead of using a garbage disposal, compost kitchen scraps and use the nutrient rich compost to enhance yard or garden soil.
- Add mulch to reduce evaporation. Mulching reduces water needed in a garden by as much as 50 percent. It also has the added benefit of preventing weed growth, deterring pests, stabilizing soil temperature and providing nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
- Harvest rain to water flower beds, herb gardens and potted plants. Rain is free and beneficial for plants because it does not contain hard minerals.
- Choose native plants that are adapted to the area because they need less water.
- Check hose and sprinkler connections for leaks – a drop wasted each second can add up to a couple of gallons each day.
- On slopes, plant native species that will retain water and help reduce runoff.
- Irrigate your lawn with reclaimed water. To find out if reclaimed water is available in your neighborhood, contact your utility company.
- Do not water the lawn if it is raining.