MINNEAPOLIS — We don't know when the drought will end. In the meantime, Freshwater Society Executive Director John Linc Stine offers the following water conservation tips:
1. Don't let faucets run
Let's start with the rule we learned as kids. Don't. Waste. Water.
"Your kitchen, your bathroom, and your laundry room – three places where you use water all the time – remember don't let the water run," Stine said. "Water should only flow when you want it to."
2. Take shorter showers
On that note, try taking a five-minute shower instead of a 10-15 minute one.
3. Identify and repair leaks
Stine says another way to save water is by checking for leaks both outside and inside your home. You can do it yourself.
"If you put a drop or two of food coloring in the tank of your toilet, it will come through as a leak and you will see the color in the bowl," Stine said.
He also says to listen for running water.
If you prefer a professional inspection, check with your municipality as it may offer a free inspection.
You may need to hire someone to make repairs. However, there could also be a simple fix like replacing the washers within any leaking faucets.
4. Wash dishes using containers
When washing dishes by hand, don't fill up the whole sink with water. Instead, Stine says to use two plastic bins or containers. Partially fill one container with hot, soapy water and let the dishes soak. Partially fill the other container with cold water for rinsing the dishes instead of letting the sink faucet run water over each soapy dish.
5. Fill the dishwasher
Dishwashers that are newer tend to be most efficient. Just don't run them until they're full.
6. Go vegetarian or vegan
If you really want to challenge yourself, Stine says to consider changing your long-term diet or lifestyle.
"What we buy, meat, uses far more water to produce than vegetables," he said. "So a higher vegetable diet, a lower meat diet, is good for saving water."
7. Garden responsibly
Speaking of letting things go, it's okay to let your perennials wilt.
"Some people will water these and they'll perk up," Stine said. "Or you can just leave them and they'll come back next year."
Stine says it's not the time to plant anything new or to transfer plants from one part of the yard to another because they're already vulnerable due to the drought.
Check with your municipality on specific sprinkler requirements. When you do water your garden or lawn, do so in the morning or evening instead of the hottest time of day when water evaporates more quickly.
8. Upgrade appliances
Retrofitting an older home with more-efficient toilets, showerheads, washing machines, and dishwashers is estimated to save about 34 gallons per person per day, cutting indoor water use in half.
9. Sponge-wash your car
If you spend 20 minutes washing your car with the hose running, you can use up to 100 gallons of water. Freshwater says to use a bucket and a sponge for washing and to turn on the hose only for rinsing.
10. Clean responsibly
Stine says to think about how you use water when you clean up counters after doing the dishes or in general around your home.
"Same principle," he said. "You don't need a running faucet all the time. Just use the water when you need it to rinse your cloth."
11. Sweep don't soak
Use a broom to clean off patios, driveways, and sidewalks instead of a garden hose.