Using Water Wisely from CPW

Using Water Wisely
A Guide to Water Efficiency in Concord, Massachusetts

Why Be Water-Efficient?

Water efficiency means using our water resources more wisely. It means adopting technology we already have so our homes, offices, industries and appliances use less water to do more and waste less.  It is common sense and easy to do.

Water Quality – Due mostly to local geological conditions, certain wells provide better water quality than others. If there is adequate storage to meet demand, Concord Water can manage the system to optimize the quality of water. As demand increases, we need to activate all our water resources, including those that may provide water with a color that is objectionable to some customers.

Peak Usage Issues – The Town’s water production facilities work hardest when called upon to keep up with demand during peak-use seasons (usually from May through September). During high-demand days, the water level in storage tanks my drop causing a decrease in pressure for some customers. If demand is too great, the Town may have to impose a ban on outdoor water uses to ensure adequate water for basic needs and emergency use, such as fire-fighting.

Water Withdrawal Restrictions –  To minimize environmental impact from water withdrawals and ensure adequate water supplies for the future, he Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) regulates how much water we can pump from our wells and use from Nagog Pond. Controlling usage during peak periods is important to stay within permitted levels. 

Cost – Concord water utilizes a seasonal tiered rate system to calculate water bills. The more water you use, the higher per unit you pay. Being water-efficient will keep your water and sewer bills low.

Reduce Wastewater Flows – Whether you have a private septic system or are part of the municipal collection and treatment system, excessive water use can shorten the life of your septic system and take up valuable capacity at the Town’s wastewater treatment plant.  

Saving Water = Saving Energy - It takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use everyday. Concord’s public water supply and treatment facilities, along with the wastewater treatment plant, consume over 2 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year—enough electricity to power 180 homes in Concord for an entire year. According to the EPA, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as keeping a 60-watt light bulb on for 14 hours.

Reducing household water use not only decreases the amount of energy required to supply and treat public water supplies, but also can help address climate change. If everyone in Concord reduces their water use by 10 percent, we will save enough energy to cut over 160,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Trends in Water Consumption:

Over the past ten years, many residents have installed water-efficient fixtures and appliances and are becoming mindful of outdoor water use, resulting in a decline of water consumption. However, state regulators are looking closely at public water suppliers’ summer water use, in particular how much residents use. Mass DEP has adopted new regulatory guidelines that suppliers like Concord would need to adhere to if certain standards are not met.  One such standard is called “Residential Gallons Per Capita Day, (RGPCD)” or in other words, how much water each resident uses in a day. The threshold established by DEP is 65 gallons; in recent years Concord’s RGPCD hovered around 70 gallons. If we continue to exceed that standard, the state is likely to require the Town to adopt mandatory outdoor watering restrictions under certain conditions. 

Indoor Conservation Tips

• Toilets are the #1 water-using appliance inside the home. Toilets installed before 1989 use 3 to 7 gallons per flush.  Today’s toilets use 1.6 gallons or less per flush and perform much better than earlier generations of low-flow models. Call Concord Water at 978-318-3259 or visit www.concordma.gov to learn more about the Toilet Replacement Rebate Program.
• Clothes washers are the #2 water-using appliace in the home. When it’s time to replace your clothes washer, make sure you purchase a water-efficient model.  Not only will you save water, you will also save energy as compared with standard washers. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency regularly publishes a listing of efficient appliances.  Visit www.cee1.org  for an up-to-date listing.  Washers rated at Tier 3 are the most water and energy efficient
• When brushing teeth or shaving, turn the water off until it is time to rinse
• Take shorter showers; Install a water-saving showerhead if your current one is over 10 years old.
• Operate dish/clothes washers only when full.
• Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket.
• Check for household leaks by reading your water meter before and after a period during which no water had been used. Toilet leaks can be detected by placing dye tabs or food coloring in the toilet tank.

Outdoors Conservation Tips
• Water only when needed. Look at the grass, feel the soil, or use a soil moisture meter (available at our office at 135 Keyes Road) to determine when to water.
• Do not over-water. Soil can absorb only so much moisture, and the rest simply runs off. A timer will help, and either a kitchen timer or an alarm clock will do. Set out tuna cans to measure how much water your sprinkler emits. Most grasses here in Concord require one inch of water a week in the summer, including rain. 
• Water lawns early in the morning during the hotter summer months. Otherwise, much of the water used on the lawn can simply evaporate between the sprinkler and the grass.
• To avoid excessive evaporation, use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water, rather than a fine mist. Sprinklers that send droplets out on a low angle also help control evaporation.
• Set automatic sprinkler systems to provide thorough, but infrequent watering. Rain shutoff devices that prevent watering in the rain are required by the Town’s Irrigation Bylaw.
• Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs, or turn soaker hoses upside-down so the holes are on the bottom. This will help avoid evaporation.
• Forget about watering the streets, walks or driveways. They will never grow a thing.
• Consider growing native plants instead of lawn. Since they are suited for our climate, they don’t require additional watering once established. Stop by our office at 135 Keyes Road to pick up a native plant landscaping template or visit www.concordma.gov.

WaterSense

Save dollars and cents with WaterSense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) labeling program that provides information on products and programs that save water without sacrificing performance. In fact, every average household that fully adopts water efficient products and practices saves 30,000 gallons per year—enough to supply a year of drinking water for 150 thirsty neighbors.

Labeled products have significant water savings over traditional products, just as the EnergyStar label has come to represent significantly more energy-efficient equipment. Using WaterSense labeled products and services will save you at least 20 percent of water over average counterparts.

Right now there are currently over 200 models of high-efficiency toilets certified by WaterSense and more than two dozen irrigation professionals in Massachusetts who are program partners.

Call Concord Water at 978-318-3259 to learn more about the rebate available to customers replacing older toilets with WaterSense models. By looking for the WaterSense label when making purchasing decisions, you can reduce your water bills and conserve resources for future generations. As a Promotional Partner with the WaterSense program, Concord Public Works will help keep you informed of the latest WaterSense products and opportunities. For more information, please visit www.epa.gov/watersense.

Free Water Conservation Devices
Concord Public Works wants to help you conserve water. Stop by our office at 135 Keyes Road weekdays 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. or call Joanne Bissetta, Water Conservation Coordinator, at 978-318-3259.

Rain Gauge – Keep track of rainfall to avoid over-watering your lawn.
Leak Detection Kit – A simple test to determine if you have a leaky toilet.
Dual Setting Flip Aerator with Swivel for the Kitchen – A swiveling aerator that has a full flow for filling pots, a wide spray for rinsing fruits and vegetables, and a flow restrictor for use when washing dishes.
Low-flow Showerhead – An attractive, high-quality showerhead that uses 2.0 gallons per minute that doesn’t feel “low-flow.” Cut your shower water use in half.
“Water Miser” Garden Hose Nozzle - Enjoy watering your garden with this six-spray pattern nozzle that ranges from a fine mist to a high-powered spray.
Shower Timer – Helps you keep your showers to five minutes.
Moisture Probe – Checks soil moisture at a plant’s root zone to help determine when the plant needs water.

This project has been financed with Federal Funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under a Safe Drinking Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund Set-aside Grant.  The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or DEP, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

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