How to Conserve Water

Conserve water GIF
Do not mess around.

Can you prevent a drought? Unless you are literally a god, there are some limitations on your capacity for drought influence. You probably can’t prevent a drought, but if everyone in your community uses water wisely throughout the year, you’ll be less likely to lose access to your water supply during periods of drought.

Conserving water is a great habit for people at every level of drought risk, but is especially important for people who live in higher risk areas. Industrial use and agricultural use tend to draw more heavily on water supplies than residential use. Another great way to reduce your risk for drought is writing to your local representatives and requesting information on industrial water use in your area. If your county is at risk for drought, operations that use a great deal of water might need to be regulated more closely.

Conserving Water Indoors

  1. Water your indoor plants or garden with water that you’d normally pour down the drain. If you collect your grey water from the shower, use biodegradable soaps; harsh soaps might kill your plants.
  2. Get leaky faucets, faulty water equipment, and other plumbing leaks fixed. 
  3. Install aerators with flow restrictions to limit water usage. 
  4. To prevent damage to pipes that could cause leaks, use water-softening systems.
  5. Consciously choose water-efficient equipment. For example, low-volume toilets and low-flow shower heads use significantly less water, without a significant change to your bathroom experience.

Conserving Water Outdoors

  1. If you have a well, keep the pump in proper working condition.
  2. Plant drought-tolerant and/or native grass, ground covers, trees, and shrubs. If your plants aren’t happy with the water that falls out of the sky, it might be time for new plants.
  3. Fountains are potential water-wasters, but recirculating the water in your fountain is a great way to make them a little better for the environment.
  4. If you can, set up a system for rainwater harvesting. 
Rule of Thumb

If you collect rainwater, don’t drink it. It’s full of toxic chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

If you must drink it, follow the CDC’s advice: filter, chemically disinfect, and boil rainwater before drinking.

  1. Optimize the placement of sprinklers on your lawn to ensure you’re not watering the pavement.
  2. Raise the lawn mower blade to its highest level (or at least 3 inches). Higher cuts encourage deeper growth of roots, which makes it easier for soil to hold onto water.
  3. Use fertilizers sparingly. The more fertilizers you use, the more water your plants require. Go with fertilizers that contact slow-release and water-insoluble nitrogen. 
  4. Switch to water-efficient irrigation systems like drip irrigation. 
  5. During the fall and winter seasons, turn off your sprinkler system. Manually water only if necessary.
  6. Use mulch to prevent weeds that compete with your plants for water. Mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil.
  7. Invest in a smart irrigation controller that automatically adjusts watering time and frequency based on wind, rain, soil moisture, evaporation, and transpiration rates. You might also be able to get rebates on the purchase of such smart controllers, so do check with your local water company. 
  8. If you have a pool, install a water-saving filter. With a traditional filter, you could use 180 to 250 gallons of water per back flush
  9. Keep your pools and spas covered when not in use to reduce evaporation.

Conserving water is good for everyone, but what can you do for your family specifically?

Toddler playing with hose water
Take the hose away from your villainous, wasteful toddler. Think of the drought!

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.