Water Conservation Tips & Resources

Water Conservation Tips

Water is simply a valuable resource that shouldn’t be wasted. Only 1% of the entire water supply on earth is available for human use – the remainder is salty or locked in ice caps and glaciers. It’s just this 1% that keeps all of the world’s agricultural, manufacturing, community and personal household and sanitation needs operating. We actually drink very little of our processed and treated “drinking water” – only about 1% of all treated water. The remainder goes in our washing machines, on our lawns, and down our toilets and drains.

Below are simple things you can do to conserve water...

For Every Room in the House with Plumbing

  • Repair leaky faucets, indoors and out.
  • Consider replacing old equipment (like toilets, dishwashers, and laundry machines) with more efficient versions.

In the Kitchen

  • When cooking, peel and clean vegetables in a large bowl of water instead of under running water.
  • Fill your sink or basin when washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full.
  • When buying a dishwasher, select one with a "light-wash" option.
  • Only use the garbage disposal when necessary (composting is a great alternative).
  • Install faucet aerators.

In the Bathroom

  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Turn off the water to brush teeth, shave, and soap up in the shower. Fill the sink to shave.
  • Get a dual-flush toilet - there are two buttons: one for solid waste releases only 1.6 gallons of water per flush, and one for liquid waste releases only 0.8 gallons per flush.
  • Repair leaky toilets. Add 12 drops of food coloring into the tank, and if color appears in the bowl 1-hour later, your toilet is leaking.
  • Install faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads (look for the WaterSense® label).


  • Run full loads of laundry.
  • When purchasing a new washing machine, buy a water saving model (front-loading) that can be adjusted to the load size.


  • Maximize the use of natural vegetation and establish smaller lawns. For portions of your lot where a lawn and landscaping are desired, ask a local nursery and/or Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners for tips about plants and grasses with low water demand. Consider planting more trees, shrubs, ground covers, and less grass. Shrubs and ground covers provide greenery for much of the year and usually demand less water. Use native plants in flower beds. Native plants have adapted to rainfall conditions and often provide good wildlife habitat. Cluster plants that require extra care together to minimize time and save water.
  • When mowing your lawn, set the mower blades to at least 3-inches high (or your mowers highest setting). Longer grass shades the soil improving moisture retention, has more leaf surface to take in sunlight, allowing it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system. This helps grass survive drought, tolerate insect damage and fend off disease.
  • Only water the lawn when necessary. If you water your lawn and garden, only do it once a week, if rainfall isn't sufficient. Avoid watering on windy and hot days. Water the lawn and garden in the morning or late in the evening to maximize the amount of water which reaches the plant roots (otherwise most of the water will evaporate). Use soaker hoses to water gardens and flower beds. If sprinklers are used, take care to be sure they don't water walkways and buildings. When you water, put down no more than 1-inch (set out empty cans to determine how long it takes to water 1-inch) each week. This watering pattern will encourage healthier, deep grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in the growth of shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought and foot traffic.
  • Apply mulch around shrubs and flower beds to reduce evaporation, promote plant growth and control weeds.
  • Add compost or an organic matter to soil as necessary, to improve soil conditions and water retention.
  • Collect rainfall for irrigation in a rain barrel.
  • When washing a car, wet it quickly, then use a bucket of water to wash the car. Turn on the hose to final rinse (or let mother nature wash your car when it rains).
  • Always use a broom to clean walkways, driveways, decks and porches, rather than hosing off these areas.