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Jan 06

By the Numbers

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on January 6, 2017 at 1:44 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

Let's face it: It is cold outside, and my idea of the perfect way to pass the time is to sit in front of a roaring fireplace with a warm beverage and good book instead of facing the biting chill. My vacation time in Bend, Oregon, with my son and grandchildren found me doing just that. The roads were covered in ice and several feet of snow. Despite the weather, the brave-souled kids still managed a trek up to Mt. Bachelor for snowboarding. Meanwhile, good books and baking held this grandmother inside the warm house.

One of the books I read told the history of Nevada miners working in a very remote and arid environment. The conditions were so tough that they could collect no more than 53 gallons of water per family per week. At first my eyes skimmed over these figures, until it dawned on me that this was not per person per day, but per family per week. The book said they did without bathing and irrigation. I could only imagine it would take more than just eliminating those two items!

Reading this account was a reminder of how fortunate we are to have safe, reliable water delivered to our taps 24/7. It also was a reminder about not taking this precious resource for granted. When rain is falling from the sky and our reservoirs are full, conservation may be far from mind. But wet or dry, conservation should be a way of life. I am certain everyone’s irrigation system is turned off now, but where else can we look for water savings?

A 2016 U.S. study found that the biggest indoor water use is toilet flushing, which consumes an average of 33.1 gallons per household per day (gphd). This is followed by showers (28.1 gphd), faucets (26.3 gphd), clothes washing (22.7 gphd) and leaks (17.0 gphd). To get the biggest bang for your buck, start by replacing older showerheads with new high-efficiency models and adding aerators to your faucets. Both are available for free from our office at 220 Nellen Avenue in Corte Madera. To help with replacing the more expensive items, MMWD offers rebates for high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, as well as many other products. 

And while picking up your showerhead and aerator at MMWD, don’t forget to pick up free dye tablets to test your toilets for leaks, as toilet leaks can account for thousands of gallons of lost water per month. Wouldn’t those old miners have made good use of that amount of water!
Dec 28

Green Resolutions

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on December 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM by Ann Vallee

by Christina Mountanos, Water Conservation Specialist

In addition to my typical New Year's resolutions to sleep, exercise and floss more, I've been making small changes to do my part to help the environment the past few years. Since we're already pretty frugal in my household with water, I typically focus on saving energy. We purchased a heating blanket for our bedroom last year, so we no longer heat the entire room. This year, we put "sweeps" under our doors and bought a new energy-efficient refrigerator. I often find that these changes, ones that don't even require daily practice, help me conserve year round with no ongoing effort.

Along the same lines, if there were actions you could take right now to save water would you do them? What if you could do something that only took a single day of work, a few hours, or even seconds? Here is a list of simple "green resolutions" you can implement this year:

  • Double-check that your irrigation controller is in the OFF position for the winter.
  • Use a simple shower timer to become aware of how long you're typically in there. Set a goal of five minutes or less.
  • Locate your water meter and spend a few minutes checking for any movement. Learn more about how to use your water meter to check for leaks.
  • Locate the main shut-off valves to your house and irrigation system so you'll know how to quickly shut off the water if a leak should occur. 
  • Put a shut-off nozzle on your garden hose.
  • Use food coloring or dye tablets to test your toilets for leaks. Find step-by-step instructions here.
  • Replace an old toilet with a new, more efficient model. (We have rebates!)
  • Check if your showerheads are efficient, and replace any that have a flow rate of more than 2.0 gallons per minute. (To check the flow rate, turn on the shower and catch the water in a 1-gallon bucket. If it takes less than 30 seconds to fill the bucket, the flow rate is more than 2.0 gallons per minute and the showerhead should be replaced.)
Regardless of the significant rainfall we've received so far this year, fresh water is still a limited resource. We are fortunate to have a fresh, clean supply available to us, ready for our use at any given timehelp us conserve it.

Happy New Year! 
Jul 28

Customer Conservation Success Story: Tips from a Super Saver

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on July 28, 2015 at 12:40 PM by Ann Vallee

Lonner HoldenSan Rafael resident Lonner Holden says he has two primary "MOs" when it comes to saving water: 1) Never let a faucet run or use it at full pressure, and 2) Try to use the same water more than once before it goes down the drain. Following these simple strategies, his household of two has been able to reduce their total daily water use—including bathroom, kitchen, laundry, garden, and cleaning—to about 50 gallons per day. How does Lonner make this happen? He’s happy to share his tips here.

  • Lonner installed a showerhead with an on/off button so the water can be easily switched off while lathering up. He also keeps a 2-gallon bucket in the shower to catch stray drips and reuses that water to flush the toilet.
  • Since high water pressure can cause faucets and showerheads to use more water, Lonner uses the shower at 1/2 pressure. (Installing a pressure compensating showerhead can help a low-pressure shower feel luxurious.) 
  • Instead of waiting for the shower to warm up, Lonner opts for cold showers, which he believes are better for his health anyway. When guests visit, Lonner does the dishes or laundry first so there's already warm water in the pipes before guests shower.
Clothes Washer
  • With the benefit of a window next to the clothes washer, Lonner was able to run a drain line out to the garden for watering plants. (If you're considering a similar "laundry-to-landscape" system, check out MMWD's rebates up to $50 for system components.)
  • Lonner lets dishes soak so they require less water for cleaning, nestling the smaller dishes in the larger so the water in the top one gets used by the next one underneath, and on down the line.
  • He minimizes running the disposal by collecting food scraps for the compost or green bin. When he must use the disposal, he runs it with the wash/rinse water from doing the dishes instead of sending clean water down the drain. 
  • When using the steamer for cooking, he uses less than 1" of water so it heats up quicker, saving both water and energy.

Are you an MMWD customer with a conservation success story to share? Tell us in the comments below, or email us and we may share your story on our blog.