As part of national Fix a Leak Week activities that start March 19, home and business owners across the region can take advantage of free water-use checkups and other water-saving resources offered by the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies.
WaterSmart Checkups provide site-specific recommendations from certified irrigation professionals to enhance water-use efficiency. Single-family home surveys include indoor and outdoor water-use assessments, while commercial checkups focus on outdoor water use. Property owners decide if and when to make upgrades. Free appointments are available year-round at www.watersmartcheckup.org.
“Fix a Leak Week is a yearly reminder to eliminate water waste – and the good news is that many common household problems can be corrected quickly and inexpensively,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors. “We not only offer residents resources to help at home, but we also take a very aggressive approach to preventing leaks in the region’s large-scale water pipelines by using high-tech inspection tools to ensure efficient operations day in and day out.”
Even small leaks can create significant waste: Household leaks nationwide squander more than 1 trillion gallons of water each year, enough to serve the annual needs of 11 million homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which sponsors the annual week. The agency estimates that a single drip each second from a faucet can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water a year.
Irrigation systems also can be major sources of water waste: a small leak in an irrigation system can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. Outdoor leaks may result from broken sprinkler heads, along with dripping hose bibs. Common leak indicators include continually damp spots in the yard and mold or algae near irrigation fixtures.
Property owners can detect less visible leaks by checking water meters before and after a two-hour period of zero water use at the property. If the meter doesn’t read exactly the same before and after, a leak is likely. In addition, many meters have a small, red “leak detector” that spins when water is being used. This may help to quickly detect small indoor leaks once all water sources are turned off, though it won’t always detect leaks in irrigation systems.
The EPA offers a variety of leak-proofing resources, including: tips for spotting leaks; a guide to fixing common household leaks; and suggestions for addressing a known leak that can’t be pinpointed. Many water waste problems can be resolved by upgrading to a new appliance or device. Look for products featuring the EPA’s WaterSense label. A WaterSense toilet, for example, can save a typical household about 13,000 gallons of water per year compared to an inefficient toilet. EPA resources, including tips and lists of WaterSense-labeled products, are at www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week.
Another resource for promoting water-use efficiency is the Water Authority’s “Live WaterSmart” smartphone app. The app is handy for quickly reporting outdoor water leaks and other forms of water waste that are visible around the region, such as excess or faulty irrigation that results in runoff reaching streets. The app allows users to send descriptions, photos and location details directly to the appropriate local water district so it can alert property owners about potential problems. Download the app at www.sdcwa.org/live-watersmart-mobile-app.