With the potential for water supply reductions increasing with every dry day in the Sierra Nevada, the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have partnered with the local chapter of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association to help residents and businesses save water and money during national Fix a Leak Week, March 16-22.
Participating association members will offer a 10 percent discount up to $100 during Fix a Leak Week on all products and services related to fixing leaks at homes and businesses in the San Diego region. No application is necessary; just mention the Water Authority partnership when scheduling an appointment. More information is at www.phccsd.org.
While household leaks may seem minor, they waste more than 1 trillion gallons a year nationwide, equivalent to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which sponsors the annual anti-leak campaign.
“Plumbing leaks waste water and undermine regional conservation efforts,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Thanks to the leadership of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association, San Diego County residents can save money on repair bills while they do the right thing to conserve our precious water supplies.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to remind customers about making the most of every drop of water,” said Danielle Dorsey, executive director of the association’s local chapter. “Many people are surprised to learn that they’ve been wasting water for months or even years without knowing it because of hidden leaks, and that a few common repairs can quickly solve most problems. The PHCC urges homeowners to hire certified licensed contractors for all plumbing repairs to ensure quality, long-lasting fixes for any leaks. Licensed contractors adhere to industry standards and state laws to protect their customers.” (Note: For more information, or to check a contractor’s license, go to the Contractors State License Board’s website, www.cslb.ca.gov.)
The Water Authority’s Board has declared a Drought Alert condition calling for mandatory water conservation measures, which include repairing leaks within 72 hours. Restrictions vary by member agency. For information about water-use rules by community, go to www.whenindrought.org. The website also provides links to water conservation resources such as a home water-use calculator, a 140-page digital flipbook “eGuide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle,” and incentives on a range of water-saving measures, from rain barrels to low-water-use devices and appliances.
People who want help identifying leaks and finding other opportunities to improve their water-use efficiency can take advantage of the free WaterSmart Checkup program offered by the Water Authority and its member agencies. Check-ups include site-specific indoor and outdoor water-efficiency recommendations by certified irrigation professionals for owners and managers of commercial, multi-family, industrial, public or single-family properties. Homeowners and property managers can use the no-obligation assessment to decide what changes to make. For details, go to www.watersmartcheckup.org.
After an extremely hot and dry 2014, the 2015 allocation from the State Water Project – an important water source for San Diego County – is currently set at only 20 percent of requested supplies. The figure may fluctuate up or down depending on precipitation over the next several weeks. Snow water content in the northern Sierra Nevada is less than 20 percent of its historical average, a bad sign for so late in the winter.
The San Diego region’s largest water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, likely will impose water supply allocations starting July 1 if conditions don’t improve quickly. Two decades of investments in water supply reliability for San Diego County – including independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project – will help reduce the impacts of any reductions in imported water supplies by about half, but the need for conservation will continue.
Eliminating water waste – from broken sprinklers to leaky toilets – is an important part of water conservation. One easy way to identify leakage is to check a home’s water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used at the property. If the meter doesn’t read exactly the same, there’s probably a leak. Water meters also typically have a small, red “leak detector” that spins when water is being used. It is especially useful for quickly detecting small indoor leaks once all water sources are turned off, though it won’t detect some leaks in irrigation systems.
Common types of leaks found inside homes include dripping faucets and showerheads, and worn toilet flappers. Many are easily detectable and correctable. For problems that can only be addressed with a new appliance or device, look for low-water-use models with the EPA’s WaterSense label.
Outdoor leaks usually are associated with irrigation systems, which should be checked at least every spring when outdoor water use starts to increase. The EPA estimates that an irrigation system with a leak 1/32 of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
While outdoor water leaks can be difficult to isolate, there are several clues to problems. Look for broken sprinkler heads, along with dripping outdoor faucets and hose bibs, and the presence of mold or algae near irrigation fixtures. Also look for continually damp spots in the yard, particularly along irrigation lines and near valves; they could signal underground leaks. Certified irrigation professionals also can help detect and resolve leaks.