American Rivers recommends the following:
• Stop leaks from aging and broken water pipes.
• Price water according to use.
• Meter all water users.
• Retrofit buildings with water-efficient toilets, faucets and appliances.
• Landscape to minimize water waste, including using drought-resistant plants and metering sprinkler systems.
• Educate the public about ways to save water.
• Design new buildings to capture rainwater and “gray water” for uses other than drinking, bathing and cooking.
• Develop “water budgets” for all surface and groundwater sources to balance withdrawals and ecological sustainability.
• Involve water users in water-policy decisions.
THINGS YOU CAN DO
Choose water-efficient products and test your WaterSense - a family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day. EPA's WaterSense program helps conserve water for future generations by providing information on products and programs that save water without sacrificing performance.
In the house:
• Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
• Toilets can leak at a rate of 200 gallons a day. Installing a new toilet could save a family of four more than $90 annually. To find out if you have a leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color shows in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
• Don't let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth. The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth saves up to eight gallons of water per day.
• Take short showers instead of baths. Install a water-saving showerhead to reduce the flow.
• Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
• Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher; wash only full loads.
• Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine. The average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load. High-efficiency washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load.
In the garden:
• Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best). Water plants differently according to what they need. Check with your local extension service or nurseries for advice.
• Set sprinklers to water the lawn or garden only – not the street or sidewalk.
• Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
• Keep your yard healthy – de-thatch, use mulch, etc.
• Sweep outside instead of using a hose.
• Landscape using "rain garden" techniques to save water and reduce stormwater runoff.