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A drop in drips

By ASJYLYN LODER
Published March 5, 2007


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photo
[iStockphoto.com]
Not only can that leaky faucet keep you awake at night with its steady drip-drip-drip, but it can waste up to 600 gallons of water every month.

If you're a Hernando County Utilities customer, then somehow, in the course of each day, you're probably using 30 gallons of water more than you should, according to the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The district allows each person about 160 gallons per day. Water guzzling does more than increase your water bill. Because of overpumping, Hernando County might have to pay a fine. Plus, given the dry year and low water levels, everyone in the region is being asked to conserve. On Tuesday, the Hernando commission gave the preliminary okay to a once-a-week watering restriction. So, things are serious. How, you may ask, can you cut your water use by 30 gallons a day?

Stop running the water while brushing your teeth. Most faucets pour 2.5 gallons per minute. Dentists recommend brushing for three to four minutes.

Cost: Nothing.

Water saved: 15 to 20 gallons a day.

Don't sweat it

Don't let the shower warm up. Brave a lukewarm splash instead of letting the shower run until it's scorching. Showerheads put out 2.5 gallons to 4.5 gallons per minute. Letting it run for three minutes wastes a lot of water.

Cost: Momentary chill?

Water saved: 7.5 to 13.5 gallons a day.

Fix leaky faucets

That annoying little drip can waste from 5 to 20 gallons of water every day - some leaks waste a lot more. A leaking faucet is typically a cheap and easy do-it-yourself repair. You'll need to buy the right part, and know how to turn off the water in your home. Write down the make and model of your faucet, or bring the faucet to the hardware store. A sales associate in plumbing should be able to point you to the right parts.

Cost: Depends on the model and the leak. For example, a Moen cartridge costs $19.97 at Home Depot, and a Delta faucet kit costs $11.47.

Water saved: 5 to 20 gallons a day, maybe more.

Stop running toilets

Your toilet tank may have a slow leak even if you don't hear it running. Toilet leaks can waste 15 gallons a day or more. To check for leaks, put 10 drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows in the bowl after 30 minutes, you have a slow leak. (Flush food coloring to prevent staining.) Leaks can be caused by a faulty flapper or tank filling mechanism.

Cost: Flappers cost $2.89 to $4.59. Replacement valves cost $6.98 to $10.98 at Home Depot. Jim Taylor, assistant manager of Home Depot on U.S. 19, likes the costlier flappers with silicon, as the cheaper models wear out due to Florida's harder water.

Water saved: 15 gallons a day or more.

- Run the dishwasher only when it is full. If you hand wash dishes, fill a dish tub or one sink with water instead of letting water run.

- Sweep your walkways and driveways. Spraying can use as much as 50 gallons of water in five minutes.

- Wash only full loads of laundry.

- Don't use your toilet as a wastebasket.

- Install a shower head that restricts water flow to 2.5 gallons per minute. There are several on the market that offer a satisfying spray while still conserving. Most are priced from $9.99 to $49.99. For most models, installation is a simple, do-it-yourself effort.

Rinse. Turn off. Brush.

[Last modified March 4, 2007, 20:32:02]


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