A leaking faucet may not seem like a big deal, but even a few drips per day can add up and make a big difference to our limited water resources.
From March 14-20, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking people across the country to take part in "Fix a Leak Week". This focuses on the small leaks that make a big difference.
Household leaks waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide each year, which is equivalent to the water use of 11 million homes.
San Luis Obispo Utility Department Director Mychal Boerman told us that most of those leaks come from just two sources.
"Our staff gets most of their calls about leaks either related to irrigation systems or toilets inside their homes," he said.
Common sources for leaks can be misaligned parts, worn-down basin flappers, or tangled chains.
Boerman continued, "Making sure that the toilet is functioning correctly [because] that is the other thing that'll drive up a water bill a lot and use a lot of water. I would say it's fairly common for us to hear from customers, 'There's no way that that could be what caused my high water use,' and then we go out and we meet with them and we discover that that was most certainly what drove the bill up. "
If you notice an increase in your water bill, a leak might be to blame. The San Luis Obispo Utility Department can help check for these issues and even get new water-efficient parts for older homes. They are also working with the California Water Efficiency Partnership to offer rebates on smart irrigation controllers. For information on those rebates, visit this link.
"It's small scale when we're talking about one home, a leak, maybe a gallon a day or less. But when we start talking about 45,000 people in a community or if we look larger scale across the county, you know, a couple of hundred-thousand people, the cumulative effect of that is is pretty large. And so we just want folks to, you know, have some personal responsibility for their properties, how water is being used. Reach out to us if we can help and if we all do our part, then we'll have a larger effect on things as a whole," Boerman said.
The utility department said that while they believe we have the water infrastructure to withstand several dry years in a row, it is up to everyone to make sure we are not wasting water.
Boerman has a few ways to make sure you are keeping an eye on leaks, especially with your outdoor irrigation.
"Proactively turn on your irrigation system during daylight hours and walk that system as it's on. Inspect it for leaks. Inspect it for misaligned spray heads that are spraying out onto the street or sidewalk. Check the timing to make sure that it's running for an appropriate amount of time where it's not running off of the property and out onto the sidewalk. So really just some proactive maintenance on the irrigation system"
For more information and educational materials on Fix a Leak Week, visit this link.