Conservation Tips

Around the Home

  • Use your water meter to check for leaks in your home. Start by turning off all faucets and water-using appliances and make sure no one uses water during the testing period. Take a reading on your meter, wait about 30 minutes, then take a second reading. If the dial has moved you have a leak.
  • Check for a leaky toilet by placing a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the dye shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, the toilet has a leak. Leaky toilets can usually be repaired by replacing the flapper. Place a brick or other large, solid object in the flush tank of the toilet to reduce the water used to flush.
  • Check for leaky faucets in sinks and bathtubs. Dripping faucets can usually be repaired by replacing the rubber o-ring or washer inside the valve.
  • Take quick showers rather than a bath to save an average of 20 gallons of water.
  • Turn off water when brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Clean vegetables in a sink or pan partially filled with water rather than running water from the tap. Re-use this water for watering house plants.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, rinse them in a sink partially filled with clean water instead of under running tap water.
  • Instead of waiting for tap water to get cold enough for drinking, keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator.
  • When possible, compost food scraps or dispose of them in the garbage rather than using the garbage disposal which requires a high level of water for operation.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it is full to make the best use of water.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry or if you can't wait for a full load, use the right water level to match the size of the load.
  • Insulate hot water pipes and your electric water heater.
  • Wash your car with a bucket of soapy water and use a nozzle to stop the flow of water from the hose between rinsings.
  • Prevent leaks by shutting off and draining water lines to outside spigots in winter.
  • Cover spas/pools to reduce evaporation. Check for leaks and have them repaired promptly.


Landscaping accounts for 20 - 50% of all residential water use and provides the best opportunity for conservation:

  • Maintain a lawn height of 2 ½ - 3 inches to help protect roots from heat stress and reduce the loss of moisture to evaporation.
  • Avoid planting turf in areas that are difficult to irrigate properly such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks or driveways.
  • Mulch around plants, bushes and trees to help the soil retain moisture, discourage the growth of weeds and provide essential nutrients.
  • Plant in the spring or fall, when watering requirements are lower.
  • When choosing plants, keep in mind that smaller ones require less water to become established.
  • Plant flower and vegetable varieties that tolerate shade and, thus, require less frequent watering.
  • Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent runoff.
  • Use xeriscape principles - landscaping that conserves water. Contact the Extension Office for information on xeriscaping.
  • Don't over water your lawn - and don't water until the lawn needs it. If the grass turns a dull grey-green and if footprints remain when you walk across the lawn, it's time to water. Lawns can do without water for a long time and turn green again when moisture is available.
  • Water before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Avoid watering in high winds or in the heat of the day.
  • Water in several short sessions rather than one long one to allow your lawn to better absorb moisture.
  • Install moisture sensors in each irrigation zone (sunny, shady, etc) to better determine irrigation needs.
  • Check sprinkler system valves for leaks; keep the heads in good repair.
  • Adjust the timer of automatic sprinklers according to seasonal demands and weather conditions. Install a rain shut-off device to eliminate unneeded watering.
  • Avoid sprinklers that spray a fine mist, which increases evaporation.
  • Install a drip irrigation system for watering gardens, trees and shrubs.

Agricultural Considerations

  • Develop a crop water management plan based on water use efficiency and rainfall patterns.
  • Develop, improve and maintain vegetative cover.
  • Manage salinity.

The Pondera County MSU Extension Office can provide more information on crop water management planning, vegetative cover and managing salinity.

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