Water Conservation Tips

Laura Kolding
12-8-2011

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Most of us in Lake Havasu City have come from another part of the country very unlike this hot, dry desert. Landscaping is also different and usually consists of gravel with a few larger rocks placed here and there. Often the first thing the newcomer will do when they buy a house is begin landscaping by planting types of greenery that bake as soon as the hot weather sets in or gets eaten by the cute little cotton-tail bunnies. That was my experience.

When it comes to landscaping, first learn as much as you can about native plants and resist planting too much greenery that is not native. My personal favorite is the Mesquite since it provides good shade, grows quickly and needs little water. Don't like the thorns? Plant a Chilean Mesquite, they give excellent shade and have no thorns. We have learned to plant bedding type plants in plastic pots for occasional color, they don't dry out so fast. We learned about the need to conserve water during the winter months, in order to save on our water bill in the warmer months. Being frugal people we devised as many ways to save water as we could.

Serious about saving resources? Here are a few tips:

LAUNDRY

A large load of wash uses about 30-35 gallons each time the washer fills. Our washer drains into a pipe that goes under the patio and out to the back yard. We then have a series of P.V.C pipes and fitting that are not glued. This way they can be changed around to water the trees in the back yard. The trees provide needed shade to cool the yard in the summer.

If my towels and sheets aren't really dirty when I change them, I freshen them by just putting them on the rinse cycle with about a tablespoon of baking soda and hanging them in the sunshine. They turn out just as fresh if I had put them through the wash cycle. Hanging your laundry on the line will also save on your electric bill and the desert air makes the wash smell nice and fresh. I place my clothesline between a fence and the side of our house where it looks more discreet and uncluttered.

WATERING OUTSIDE

If you water with a hose outside, set a kitchen timer to remind you to turn the water off. If your system is on a timer, cut back the time or turn the system off during the winter months. Avoid lawns. Who wants to mow anyway?

DISHWASHING AND HOUSEWORK

I use plastic dish pans inside my sink. This saves wear and tear on the sink and the dishwater can then be re-used. The soapy water is good to clean the driveway, just toss it on and sweep it off. The rinse water goes into the mop bucket and is used to clean the floors. Then, I dump the used water out of the bucket onto a plant outside. Or it could be used to wash the walkways. This way, the rinse water gets used three times instead of just run down the drain!

PERSONAL HYGIENE

Pay close attention to your time in the shower, and use water-saver shower heads. This will make a huge difference in your consumption. Take shipboard showers by wetting yourself down and turning the water off. Then soap yourself down and turn the water back on to rinse. If this doesn't appeal to you, try setting a kitchen timer for 5 minutes and turn the water flow down a little.

If you have children or teenagers in the house, monitor their time in the shower. If they have been running water too long knock on the door. After a few reminders they will be saving water on their own. Don't forget to turn the water off when you are brushing your teeth, and teach your children to do the same.

CAR WASHING

Use a bucket of water to wash your car, not a running hose. If water is running several feet down your street, you are probably using too much water.

RAINWATER HARVESTING

For years, our rainwater harvesting "system" has been a large, clean garbage can under the downspout by our patio. When the can is full we put the lid on it to keep the water clean and keep it from evaporating. This water is used to for the potted plants on the patio and lasts a long time. We have just finished another rainwater project using water off the garage which is directed away from the house and onto a young Palo Verde tree and some cactus landscaping.

When beginning rainwater harvesting, start small and inexpensive. Observe where water flows during a rainstorm and devise ways to direct it away from structures and onto the plants. It's cheap, easy and fun.

Lake Havasu City and other small desert towns are great places to live. I would like to see our city grow and prosper. Water conservation is one way of ensuring our city will have enough water resources in the future. All we really have to do is change the way we think about water.

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