As part of the regional effort to reduce water waste, the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies are again partnering with the local chapter of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association during national Fix a Leak Week, March 14-20, to make fixing water leaks less costly for residents and businesses.
Throughout Fix a Leak Week, participating contractors will offer customers a 10 percent discount, up to $100, on products and services related to fixing leaks at homes and businesses in the San Diego region. To receive the discount, customers simply need to mention the Water Authority partnership when scheduling an appointment. More information is at www.sdcwa.org/save-water-money-during-fix-leak-week.
Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water a year nationwide, equivalent to the annual household water use of 11 million homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which sponsors the annual anti-leak campaign. While a drip of water may seem harmless, one drip per second from a leaking faucet can waste more than 3,000 gallons a year.
“Fixing leaks as soon as they’re noticed is one way residents and businesses can make sure their conservation efforts don’t go down the drain like water wasted from faulty plumbing,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “This renewed partnership with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association means that for a second year running, conserving our precious water resources will be a little easier for San Diego County residents and businesses.”
Repairing leaks within 72 hours is one of several mandatory water conservation measures the Water Authority and its member agencies require in response to statewide drought conditions.
“Hidden leaks can waste water and money, but can often be fixed through common repairs performed by professionals who know how to locate them,” said Bonni Parsons Mitchell, executive director of the association’s local chapter. “The PHCC supports homeowners hiring certified licensed contractors for all plumbing repairs, to ensure quality work that lasts and reflects industry standards and state laws designed to protect customers.” (Note: For more information, or to check a contractor’s license, go to the Contractors State License Board’s website, www.cslb.ca.gov.)
Common types of leaks found inside homes include dripping faucets and showerheads, and worn toilet flappers. Many are easily detectable and correctable. For problems that can only be addressed with a new appliance or device, look for low-water-use models with the EPA’s WaterSense label.
Outdoor leaks usually are associated with irrigation systems, which should be checked at least every spring when outdoor water use starts to increase. Look for broken sprinkler heads, along with dripping outdoor faucets and hose bibs. Other possible signs of a leak include continually damp spots in the yard, or mold or algae near irrigation fixtures. The EPA estimates that an irrigation system with a leak 1/32 of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. Certified irrigation professionals also can help detect and resolve leaks.
Even leaks that are not visible can be identified by property owners by checking water meters before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used at the property. If the meter doesn’t read exactly the same, there’s probably a leak. Water meters also typically have a small, red “leak detector” that spins when water is being used. It is especially useful for quickly detecting small indoor leaks once all water sources are turned off, though it won’t detect some leaks in irrigation systems.
Additionally, the Water Authority's "When in Drought, Report Waste" mobile app, available at www.sdcwa.org/when-in-drought-report-waste-mobile-app, allows users to report leaks they spot in the community, and to upload photo or video documentation. Reports from the app are submitted to the water agency that serves the area where the leak is observed.
The Water Authority offers several other resources for increasing water-use efficiency. A home water-use calculator and a digital “eGuide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle” are at www.whenindrought.org, along with information about incentives on a range of water-saving measures. For information about the free, no-obligation WaterSmart Checkup program offered by the Water Authority and its member agencies, go to www.watersmartcheckup.org. The checkups include site-specific indoor and outdoor water-efficiency recommendations by certified irrigation professionals for owners and managers of commercial, multi-family, industrial, public or single-family properties.
El Niño conditions have produced periods of wet weather across the state this winter and improved snow-water content in the northern Sierra Nevada compared to recent years. But after a dry and extremely warm February, the snow water content was 84 percent of normal on March 9, well below the 150 percent of average the California Department of Water Resources has said is needed for the state to emerge from the drought.