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Conservation and Water Efficiency

The City's Conservation Program focuses on working with water customers to reduce water demand using a variety of mechanisms. Voluntary water efficiency is emphasized through educational opportunities such as presentations to civic and school groups and at large community fairs such as CenterFest, and Earth Day.

Businesses and residences are encouraged to contact Conservation Program staff to schedule Water Use Assessments, which are one-on-one educational efforts conducted upon customer request. Conservation staff review water use patterns and consumption while conducting an inspection of the customer's premises to determine if leaks exist and find other causes of excessive water use. Key benefits to customers include the possibility of reduced water/sewer bills, which can mean large annual savings especially for customers with large or numerous properties and many water using fixtures and appliances. Staff members also offer telephone consultations with tips to reduce water use.

Popular Showerhead Exchanges are held in conjunction with community events. The deluxe model water-efficient showerheads featured at the exchanges are also available year-round at City Hall for the low price of $3 each. Other water efficient devices are promoted at events and during presentations and assessments. Conservation Program staff retrofitted several City facilities with water-efficient devices which resulted in water savings for those facilities.

Other water efficiency strategies focus on outside water use. Conservation staff strongly support the development of "Resourceful Landscapes" i.e. landscapes that feature native and/or drought tolerant plants, use of recycled materials for compost and mulch and limited grassy areas. Brochures are available with list of plants and techniques promoting this type of landscape. To learn more about reducing the amount of water your lawn and garden needs and about the practice of "xeriscaping" or planting drought tolerant species, visit the Xeriscape North Carolina website. You can also contact the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District.

All conservation and efficiency measures are aimed at reducing water usage, decreasing the demand on our water treatment plants and extending the life of our water supplies. In the event of a drought, water shortage or other emergency, conservation staff will implement and enforce the measures listed in the City's Water Conservation Ordinance.

Contact conservation staff at (919) 560-4381 for general conservation matters, to schedule a Water Use Assessment, for presentations to school, civic group or garden club, to investigate a facility retrofit or to request a copy of the WaterWise Landscaping & Watering Guide brochure or any other materials.

Conservation Tips for the HomeSave Money & Water with a WaterSense Makeover
In the Bathroom
Repair all leaks & drips. These drips
up to money down the drain.
Did you know
that a steady drip from
faucet can waste up to 30 gallons
a day? That’s
 about $10 on
your bimonthly bill!

Install low flow showerheads and
faucet aerators
(2.5 GPM or lower).
Limit shower time to five minutes.
Many showerheads have flow rates
of five gallons per minute or more. A
10 minute shower at this rate uses
50 gallons of water! For a four
person household, that translates
to $75 on your bi-monthly bill, not to
mention energy costs for heating.
Keep tub bathing to a minimum, and instead, take quick showers.
Do not leave the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving.
For a family of four this will save you some 200 gallons a week!

Install a new High Efficiency or Ultra-Low Flush Toilet, or use a toilet displacement device such as a water-filled half-gallon container in your existing one (but do not use a brick, as it can disintegrate and cause plumbing problems).
Also, do not use the toilet as a waste basket or ashtray.
Leaking toilets throughout the U.S. waste on average 9.5 gallons per day. Audible leaks can waste hundreds of gallons each day.
Many things can cause a toilet leak such as a worn or broken flapper valves, ballcocks, refill valves and valve seals.
Contact your plumber if you suspect a leak, and check out our web page containing tips on finding leaks.
In the Kitchen
Run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.
When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink with soap and water instead of running the tap. Fill another basin with clean water for rinsing.
Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator, instead of running the tap until the water is cool.
Don't let the faucet run while cleaning vegetables. Instead, rinse them in a sink or bowl filled with clean water.
Thaw frozen foods ahead of time in sitting water or in the air rather than under running water.

Use a broom to clear debris from walkways and driveways instead of hosing them down with water.
Water your lawn only when it needs it, and only before 10:00 am or after 6 p.m. One inch of water per week is sufficient to keep your lawn and plants healthy.
Make sure that sprinklers are watering only the landscape, not the driveway or street. Do not water on windy days. If you see water running off of your landscape into the street or sidewalk this may mean that your sprinklers are not properly aligned, that you are applying too much water too quickly, or that your soil is already saturated with water.
Plant drought tolerant and/or native trees and plants. Use mulch to help retain moisture. To learn more about reducing the amount of water your lawn and garden needs and about the practice of "xeriscaping" or planting drought tolerant species, request a copy of the "WaterWise Landscaping & Watering Guide," visit the Xeriscape North Carolina website. You can also contact the Durham Soil and Water Conservation Service.
When washing a car, use soap and water from a bucket. Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle for the final rinse only.
Report leaks in fire hydrants, plumbing, or other public facilities so that they can be repaired.

For 100 ways to save water, visit Water - Use it Wisely.