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Posts Tagged ‘toilets’

This is the first in a series of posts by MMWD’s interns, summer helpers, and watershed aides about their experiences at the district.

by Philip Shea, Information Technology Intern

As a lifelong Marin resident, growing up in close proximity to the MMWD watershed has always provided me with ample access to abundant habitat away from freeways, cars, and traffic. I learned to mountain bike at a very early age. I’ve hiked miles upon miles of access roads surrounding just about every community and township in the central Marin areas.

Throughout all of this time, I had never considered MMWD as a potential workplace until seeing a job posting for a summer intern. Being here now has brought me back to doing the work I love after earning my Associates degree at College of Marin last May. As an Information Technology intern, I’m assisting anyone at the district using computers (meaning everyone at the district).

I came here in June, a few months after voluntary water-use reductions were requested by our Governor Jerry Brown and MMWD’s Board of Directors. With the education provided by our knowledgeable Water Conservation Department here at the district, I’ve learned that with planning and a little modification of my daily routine, using 25% less water throughout my day really isn’t too difficult and makes me feel like I’m making an important difference.

I’m not a homeowner (yet). But, if I were, I would absolutely take advantage of the education and rebates the district is offering to residents who want to use less water. Even in the lobby of the district offices here, I’ve seen free supplies for testing for toilet leaks, changing showerheads, and learning better water practices, as well as 20% off coupons to Fairfax Lumber & Hardware for outdoor irrigation supplies.

With all of the resources offered, it seems to me we could go above and beyond the 25% voluntary reduction requested by the board, which benefits not only your household, but all of Marin.

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Saving water is always important but especially during a drought like we’re having right now. There are lots of things you can do at home and at school to save water. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Be a leak detective: Check faucets and showers for drips—one drip per second adds up to eight gallons of water every day. Remember to check outdoor faucets and hoses, too.
  • A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day! Ask your parents to help you test your toilets for leaks by placing a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet in the tank and waiting about 15 minutes. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak that needs to be repaired.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a waste basket. Put facial tissues in the trash. Don’t flush spiders and other creepy-crawlies—capture them in a cup and put them outside.
  • Turn off the tap while you brush—you'll save about eight gallons every day!

    Turn off the tap while you brush—you’ll save about eight gallons every day!

    Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or lathering your hands. This is an easy way to save eight gallons or more every day.

  • Take showers instead of baths. Try timing your shower, then challenge yourself to shorten your shower by two minutes. You’ll save about five gallons!
  • Try this experiment to see how water-efficient your showerhead is. If you discover that you need a new showerhead, MMWD has free replacements available.
  • Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warm up. Use the water you collect to flush the toilet by pouring the bucket into the toilet bowl. Or, use this water to help your parents water thirsty house or garden plants.
  • Designate a drinking glass for each member of the family and reuse your glass throughout the day. You’ll cut down on the number of glasses that need washing.
  • If washing dishes is one of your chores, don’t rinse dishes under a running tap. Instead, fill a pan with water. Better yet, just scrape the dishes into the trash or compost and put them in the dishwasher. Remember to run the dishwasher only when full.
  • If your clothes aren’t very dirty, re-wear them before tossing them in the laundry hamper.
  • Wash your pet outside in an area of the yard that needs watering.
  • Remind your friends, classmates, and parents to conserve water, too!

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by Christina Mountanos

It’s both remarkable and worrisome that the local forecast is still filled to the brim with sunshine. With 2013 earning the title of driest year in MMWD’s recorded history, and no end in sight, everyone I know is at least a little on-edge. Veterans of the 1976-77 drought have been busy tightening their belts, and our phones have been abuzz with customers expressing their concerns. One thing’s for sure, the time for everyone to do their part is now! Where can you begin? If you’re on a limited budget, a new homeowner, or just don’t know where to start, the following list can help! Check out some of the most popular, and effective, ways to save:

1. Check for leaks and repair them immediately. One in three of our customers have leaks and don’t even realize it. Don’t become part of the statistic! Check your home for leaky toilets and dripping fixtures. Many repairs are simple, inexpensive, and can reduce your indoor water usage by nearly 15 percent. Need some guidance? Read our fun, informative instructions on “How to Be a Leak Detective” to get started.

2. Turn off your automatic sprinkler system and water plants only as needed. Switching your irrigation timer to the “off” position is an easy, no-cost way to save water. Rest assured that despite the dry weather conditions, plants need about 80 percent less water this time of year than they do in the summer months. Keep an eye on your garden and only water periodically, if plants are showing signs of stress. Once spring rolls around, let us help you decide when it’s right to turn things back on. Sign up for our online Weekly Watering Schedule and receive weekly e-mails with guidelines on how much to water.

3. Check your water pressure and install pressure-compensating faucet aerators and showerheads. High water pressure in your home can cause faucets and showerheads to use more water, so it’s important to know what you have. Sixty pounds per square inches is just right for most homes, but check with a plumber to be sure. Also consider installing pressure-compensating showerheads and faucet aerators. Installing a two-gallon-per-minute showerhead can save up to 2,900 gallons annually. Putting in new aerators on your bathroom and kitchen faucets can save 700 gallons more.

4. Check your water meter. Take charge of your water usage by learning to read your meter and doing some simple math. It’s just as easy as reading the odometer in your car and only takes a few minutes. Taking weekly readings will help you spot any unusual usage, catch leaks, and avoid surprises on your bill. Use the handy form we have available online to record your readings or download a smart-phone application to store it for you!

5. Participate in MMWD’s free conservation programs. Very few things in this world are free. Fortunately, one thing you can still get is a water use survey with one of our conservation specialists. Let us help you identify ways to save water in your home (indoors and out) and provide you with complimentary showerheads and aerators (as needed, of course). Call our Conservation Assistance Program hotline at (415) 945-1523 to set up an appointment.

6. Install high-efficiency WaterSense-labeled toilets. Toilets are responsible for nearly 30 percent of our indoor water usage. That’s why, time-and-time-again, replacing old, inefficient models tops the list of ways to save. Purchase a new high-efficiency toilet (HET) and save 20-60 percent per flush, for a significant reduction of 13,000 gallons annually. Consider dual-flush to further your savings, check map-testing.com to get your hands on cold, hard facts about performance, and go to our website for rebate information on qualifying models so you can get paid to save! Toilets save water year-round, and you’ll find them in price ranges made for everyone.

7. Install a high-efficiency clothes washer. Second only to toilets are the workhorses we call clothes washers. You can put your old 30-40 gallon clunker to shame by purchasing a new high-efficiency model that uses 18 gallons or less. Take advantage of our current rebate program to save water, energy, and money.

8. Install a WaterSense-labeled smart irrigation controller. Purchase a new “smart” controller and never forget to reduce your watering schedule again! The EPA estimates these controllers—which take their cues from real-time weather conditions—can save the average family 8,800 gallons annually. Schedule a pre-inspection with one of our conservation specialists, then take advantage of MMWD’s rebate for $20 per active station. Smart controllers are made by a variety of manufacturers and, like toilets, are available in a range of prices.

9. Add compost and mulch. Amend, amend, amend your soil. Gets your hands on some organic compost, or make your own! The benefits are overwhelming. Feeding your soil with compost nourishes plants, helps with aeration, resolves compaction issues, prevents runoff, and helps retain moisture. Since plants residing in amended soils fare better in drought conditions, twice a year spread two to four inches of compost over the top or your soil, then dig it into the top six to 12 inches. Follow-up with two to four inches of mulch and get ready to help make whatever moisture we receive this rainy season last!

10. Make your garden water-smart. Upgrade your irrigation system by converting some of your spray systems to drip irrigation. Or, improve the efficiency of your current sprinklers by changing them to high-efficiency rotor-type nozzles. Rotors can fit into existing spray bodies and use one-third less water. By putting out water in small, finger-like streams, they water slowly, more evenly, and reduce water loss due to evaporation and runoff. While you’re at it, consider removing some of your turf grass. A small-sized area of turf, with a spray system operating at ten gallons per minute, can easily use 100 gallons per day, 300 per week, and 15,600 annually! Replacing your lawn with native, low-water use plants is a great way to conserve water and save money. Check out the links on our “Water-Wise Plants” page to find some gorgeous inspirations.

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by Charlene Burgi

The saying “Timing is everything” couldn’t hold truer than at this moment regarding water conservation. Incoming news from Marin is giving us time to plan.

A few days before Christmas an email came to my inbox stating that the MMWD Board of Directors passed a resolution calling on customers to conserve water due to the record-breaking low rainfall we have experienced in the past year.

To further drive this point home, Wendy, a dear friend from the Water Conservation Department, shared Christmas with us. Upon her arrival, she showed us the Marin IJ, which carried a front page story about the extremely dry conditions.

The article reported statistics that shocked me. I read that less than 11 inches of rain fell in Marin in 2013. That is eight fewer inches than the recorded low from 1929—less on a calendar year basis than the debilitating drought we remember so well in the ‘70s!

This news gave me pause for thought. We have time to cinch our belts now and check our conservation practices at home as well as at work. Good times often make us more lax in our practices and habits—conserving water is no exception! Perhaps it is time to reassess our daily routine.

There is time right now to check for dripping faucets that may have been placed on a back burner. Repair them with proper washers or replace the culprit if it is beyond repair. Did a water survey reveal a leaking toilet that needs a flapper replacement? Did that chore get put off until the proverbial tomorrow? Has the irrigation controller been upgraded to a smart controller, or is it still programmed by the “by guess, by golly” method? Is the soil amended so irrigation water soaks into the root zone, or does the heavy clay cause the water to run off? Are the planting beds heavily mulched to inhibit evaporation? Drip systems need to be checked for missing emitters, spray heads require visual analysis to determine if the spray is targeting the intended area and didn’t vibrate into the street or sidewalk.

Smart irrigation controllers

MMWD is offering rebates on smart irrigation controllers and more. Visit marinwater.org/rebates for details. (Photo by Richard Wheeler)

The water district can help you with your conservation efforts in several ways. If you have never had a water survey, call to have one of MMWD’s specialists visit your home, check for leaks and offer suggestions for how to conserve. While there, the specialist can talk to you about rebate programs that could save you money toward the purchase of a new high-efficiency toilet (or two), washing machine and smart controller.

Timing is everything. The water we save right now means that much more water in our reservoirs for that much longer. New ideas, new habits and renewed practices put into action now also will give time for a seamless transition if the dry weather persists and we must move from voluntary to mandatory use reduction.

And what better time to start or renew good practices! We are always thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Let conservation be at the top of your list.

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by Dan Carney

Water has a knack for quietly leaking 24-hours-a-day out of even the smallest cracks and crevices. In fact, it’s so good at finding ways to hide that one-third of all properties in Marin have water leaks. MMWD staff perform thousands of free Conservation Assistance Program (CAP) surveys at homes and businesses every year and discover leaking toilets, sprinkler lines and valves that sometimes account for 25 percent or more of the water used at the site—that’s a lot of wasted water and money!

MMWD Rebates: Get Paid to SaveIf you think it’s time for a free CAP survey to check for leaks, give us a call on the CAP hotline at 945-1523 and we’ll be glad to set up an appointment and meet with you at your property. As an extra bonus, MMWD has rebate dollars available for customers to replace leaky old toilets, water-guzzling clothes washers and out-of-control irrigation controllers. Visit the rebate website at marinwater.org/rebates or give conservation staff a call at 945-1527. Rebate dollars are limited, so get yours today!

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Get paid to save with rebates from MMWD! We’re pleased to offer rebates on high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency clothes washers and smart irrigation controllers. Find details at marinwater.org/rebates.

Thanks to students Dean Mai, David Lau Lui and Nikole Rivera of Ex’pression College for Digital Arts who produced this video.

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by Robin McKillop

MMWD Rebates: Get Paid to SaveAfter a four-year hiatus, we’re pleased to announce rebates are back! This is your chance to save water, energy and money by installing qualifying high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers and smart irrigation controllers. Purchases must be made on or after September 1, 2013, to qualify. Visit us online at marinwater.org/rebates for complete program information, including qualifying product lists and application materials.

Rebates up to $100 per qualifying toilet

High-efficiency toilets (HETs) are designed to use less than 1.3 gallons per flush while retaining superior flushing performance. The models that qualify for a rebate from MMWD have passed rigorous testing standards to achieve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label. Since toilets are the single biggest water-users inside your home, replacing an older one with a new high-efficiency model is an easy way to trim your water bill. To apply for a high-efficiency toilet rebate, simply review the program terms and conditions listed on the application form. Then purchase a qualifying toilet and submit your completed application with your original receipt.

Rebates up to $50 for qualifying clothes washers

High-efficiency clothes washers exceed federal efficiency standards. Washers that qualify for a rebate from MMWD are designed to use 12 gallons of water per load, or less. That’s less than half the water (and energy) needed by a washer that simply meets today’s federal efficiency standards. If you do a lot of laundry in your household, the water and energy savings can really pile up. To apply for a high-efficiency clothes washer rebate, simply review the program terms and conditions listed on the application form. Then purchase a qualifying clothes washer and submit your completed application with your original receipt.

Rebates up to $20 per residential valve and $30 per commercial valve for qualifying smart irrigation controllers

Smart irrigation controllers are designed to self-adjust based on real-time weather and site conditions like rainfall, wind, temperature, humidity, solar radiation and soil type. Smart irrigation controllers tailor watering schedules to actual site conditions, minimizing water waste and conserving water. While it’s tempting to fall into a “set it and forget it” approach, it’s important to remember that smart irrigation controllers are part of an irrigation system. They can perform as intended only if the system is properly designed, installed and maintained, and if the controller is installed, programmed and maintained properly.

To apply for a smart irrigation controller rebate, contact MMWD’s Water Conservation Department at (415) 945-1527 to schedule a water conservation site survey, before purchasing your new controller and after reviewing program terms and conditions. The water conservation survey will help you identify ways to conserve water at your property, both indoors and out, and will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete. During the survey you will receive additional information about smart irrigation controllers to help you decide if they are a good match for you, as well as an application form. After you purchase your qualifying smart irrigation controller, submit your completed application with your original receipt. Rebate amounts are based on the number of active irrigation stations as determined during the survey.

Funding for these rebates comes from the Marin Municipal Water District and the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, administered by State of California, Department of Water Resources.

Bay Area water agencies are coordinating to provide this rebate program, funded in part under a regional grant to Bay Area Clean Water Agencies under the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, administered by State of California, Department of Water Resources.

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