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As populations grow, so does the demand for water. Although water on earth seems limitless, rivers and lakes that supply surface water for human use make up less than 0.01 percent of the world’s water! Lake Sidney Lanier is Gwinnett County’s water source. With more than 900,000 Gwinnett residents using water resources each day, conservation efforts are more important than ever.
The Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources is your community partner and resource for water conservation. If you have questions or need more information about any of the conservation topics covered on our website, please email email@example.com or call 678.376.6722. Free water conservation workshops on a variety of topics are scheduled throughout the year. Check our Workshops page to see the schedule.
Worried about leaks? Visit our Leak Detection page to get help locating leaks at your home.
Looking for conservation information for your business? Check out our Business Conservation page.
Does your household use a lot of water?
You can use information found on your water bill to determine your daily per person water use to see how you compare. Just follow these steps:
- Under the “Usage History” section, look for your “Consumption” number next to “This Month.” Let’s say it’s 6.3.
- Multiply your consumption number by 1,000 to get the total number of gallons your household used this billing period. In our example, that would be 6,300 gallons.
- Divide your total number of gallons by the number of “Billing Days” in the billing cycle. This will give you the average daily HOUSEHOLD use. If the number of days is 30, the average daily household use in this example is 210 gallons.
- For average daily PER PERSON use, just divide your average daily household use by the number of people living in your home. If there are three people living in this household, that would be 70 gallons per person, per day.
Now it’s time to see how you compare. If you use water outdoors during the warmer months, you may notice that your number is higher in the summer.
Gallons per person, per day
55 or less
65 or less
Average use in Gwinnett County
75 and above
90 and above
Want to know where in your home you use the most water? Use our Do-It-Yourself Household Water Assessment to find out.
Change your habits
Conserving water can be as simple as changing some of your everyday habits.
- Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth.
- Don't leave the water running while you shave. Stopper the sink to collect water for rinsing the razor.
- Don’t use the toilet as a trash can. Human waste and toilet paper are the only things that should be flushed. Learn what not to flush.
- Some "hardcore" conservationists don't flush the toilet after each use. They live by the credo "If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down."
- Catch the initial cold water in a bucket while waiting for the shower to warm up and use it to flush the toilet or water plants.
Kitchen and Laundry
- Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.
- If you must wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running. Try to stopper the sink to use the collected water.
- Routinely check your faucets for leaks, especially guest baths or garage sinks that may not be visited often.
- Wash only full loads of clothes or be sure to adjust the water level in the washer to match the size of the load.
- Use a broom to clean walkways and driveways instead of the hose.
- When you wash your car, use a commercial carwash. Conveyor-style car washes are required to recycle at least 50 percent of water that they use.
- If you do wash your car at home, use a bucket of water instead of a running hose to cut down on water waste. Also, make sure you wash your car on the grass!
- Control the flow on your hose with an auto shut-off nozzle. An open hose flows about six gallons per minute.
- Install rain barrels to collect rainwater from your gutters and use it for watering plants during dry spells.
- Don’t buy recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
- If you have a pool, install a pool cover and reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation by up to 90 percent. That’s an average savings of 6,000 to 8,000 gallons per year.
- Check your swimming pool and other outdoor water fixtures regularly for leaks. A leaky swimming pool can waste more than 100,000 gallons of water per year.
Replace your fixtures
Does your home have outdated, inefficient fixtures? Free low-flow home retrofit kits are available at DWR’s Central Facility. The kit contains a low-flow showerhead, faucet aerators, and toilet leak detection dye tablets. Kits are available from the billing counter during business hours. There is a limit of one kit per household.
Toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home's indoor water consumption. By installing High Efficiency Toilets (HETs), the average family can reduce the amount of water used for flushing by 20 to 60 percent. Purchase a toilet with the WaterSense label to ensure good performance and efficiency. The Maximum Performance (MaP) program also tests toilets for good performance.
Showers account for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use. Outdated showerheads can use four gallons per minute (gpm) or more. Showerheads sold today can use 2.0 gpm or even 1.5 gpm while still providing effective water flow. Some showerheads also feature a pause button, allowing you to save even more by stopping the water flow while you lather up! Look for the WaterSense label to ensure efficiency and good performance.
Faucets don’t need to be fully replaced to become more water efficient. Simply twist a new aerator onto the end of an old faucet to reduce its flow rate. When purchasing a new aerator, look for one that uses 1.0 or 1.5 gallons per minute. It’s a good idea to bring the old part or faucet measurements with you to the store to be sure you buy the right sized replacement. If you would like to replace your entire faucet, look for a WaterSense labeled model for efficiency and good performance.
Clothes Washers that are older can use over 40 gallons per load. Newer machines can use less than 15 gallons per load, need less detergent, and can be gentler on your clothes. Look for an ENERGY STAR certified model to ensure efficiency and good performance.
Dishwasher technology has improved dramatically. Dishwashers today can use less than a third of the water needed by older models. Some models can even adjust water use based on the load. Look for a dishwasher with the ENERGY STAR label to ensure efficiency and good performance. Pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwasher can waste up to 20 gallons of water. Scrape food residue into the trashcan to save water and prevent blockages.
Conserve water when irrigating and landscaping
- Don’t overwater. Established lawns and landscapes require only an inch of water each week to stay healthy in Gwinnett’s temperate climate. In fact, overwatering kills more plants than drought. It is better to deliver an inch of water over the course of one to two sessions per week rather than watering a little every day. This encourages plants to establish deeper root systems, making them more drought tolerant.
- Use a rain gauge. To monitor how much water your yard has received, set up a rain gauge around your home. Empty cans also work as a good measure. Mark the empty cans at the one-inch level, run your sprinklers as you normally would, and time how long it takes to reach the marks.
- Beat the heat. Water in the early morning before sunrise. Watering when temperatures are low helps reduce water loss from evaporation and improves soil absorption so water and nutrients get to plant roots where it’s needed. During the day, heat, sun, and wind can cause up to 50 percent of the water applied to evaporate before it is absorbed. Check out Georgia’s Watering Restrictions.
- Timing is everything. If you like to sleep in, set your irrigation system timer or purchase an inexpensive hose timer if you set up sprinklers manually. Also, don’t forget to turn your timer off and skip the next watering session if your yard has received enough rain to soak the soil. If you have an irrigation system that uses an automatic timer, add a rain sensor. It will keep the sprinklers from operating while it’s raining.
- Slow it down. When sprinklers spray faster than your lawn can absorb, precious water is wasted. If you notice runoff on the driveway or street when you irrigate, switch to multiple shorter watering sessions on your chosen day, taking 45-minute breaks between sessions. That will give plants time to absorb the water they need without letting any go to waste. Using a drip irrigation system or soaker hose is another great option. By delivering water slowly, right to the base of plants where it’s needed, very little water will be lost to evaporation.
- Check for leaks. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32 of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. Regularly watch your system operate to check for any broken sprinkler heads or pressure problems. Lower pressure in one set of sprinkler heads can indicate an underground leak in the pipe that supplies that zone. Be suspicious if you see one area of your yard that is especially green and growing at a faster rate than other areas. Periodically walk your yard and search for soggy spots. It is always a good idea to have your system checked out by a professional at least once a year to make sure everything is in good working order.
- Choose native and drought-tolerant plants. Choose plants suited for our region. Dogwoods and azaleas are more than perennial favorites; they’re Georgia natives. Consider your yard’s drainage patterns, soil conditions, and sun exposure to find plants that will thrive without much water. Keep thirsty turf grass to a minimum.
- Group plants wisely. When landscaping, be sure to match the plant’s sunlight and water requirements with the planting location and group plants that have similar water needs. During periods of little rainfall, provide water just to the areas that need it most and avoid irrigating plants that are more tolerant of dryness.
- Don’t over fertilize. The nitrogen in fertilizer can stimulate lush growth, but new leaves also increase the plant’s need for water. Furthermore, when shoot growth increases, root growth decreases, reducing the plant’s ability to extract moisture from the soil. Most established, healthy plants only need fertilizer once every two to three years. Never fertilize prior to heavy rainfall, because the rain may wash valuable nutrients down the storm drain into rivers and streams where they can become pollutants.
- Mulch. Natural mulches such as pine straw, pine bark, and shredded hardwood even out temperature extremes, allow for better water penetration, and help plants retain moisture. For maximum benefit, maintain 3 to 5 inches of mulch on the soil surface at all times.
- Keep weeds in check. Weeds not only make the landscape unattractive, they compete with other plants for moisture and nutrients. Landscape fabrics can be placed under mulch to serve as an added barrier to weeds.
For more information on smart irrigation check out this irrigation guide or come to one of our free irrigation and landscaping workshops.