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Water-saving tip: shut the water off while brushing your teeth.

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WORTHINGTON — Every little bit helps when it comes to conserving water, according to Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain. 

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“Do whatever you can. Whatever you can save is going to hopefully delay us from having to take more drastic measures,” he said. “Those next steps are going to start affecting livelihoods. The (Water and Light) Commission will give every consideration of that before we jump to that next step.”

But what can a person do?

“There’s so much out there that people can do and so much information on the Internet,” Hain said. “Google water conservation tips … and you come up with all kinds of stuff.”

One of the biggest things to be on the lookout for, Hain said, is leaks.

“By and large, most folks know where their water meter is. Go downstairs and look at your water meter, take a reading,” Hain said. “Then, go some period of time, an hour or two hours that you know no water is being used in the house, go down and look at it again. If your water meter has moved, you’re losing water someplace.”

WPU does its part to help make people aware of potential leaks.

“Often times, our billing system, every time the meters are read on a monthly basis, will flag abnormally high or low readings,” Hain said. “We’ll contact folks and say you have an abnormally high water usage. Often times ... they have something leaking.”

For the most part, Hain said, the citizens of Worthington have done a good job of conserving water. The normal usage for a WPU customer is 52 gallons per day, compared to the national average of 100.

“By and large, our community has done a pretty doggone good job. But we do see some excessively high water uses,” Hain said.

According to Hain, the toilet is the No. 1 user of water inside a person’s residence. Therefore, a toilet leak could waste the most water.

“How do you check for a leak in a toilet? Get some food coloring, take the lid off your tank, put a couple drops of food coloring in there, and if all of a sudden the food coloring is infiltrating into the bowl, you have a leaky toilet. You are leaking water from the tank into the bowl,” he said.

Being mindful of shutting water off while brushing teeth and shaving is another opportunity to conserve water.

Leaky faucets — both indoors and outdoors — are also something on which to keep an eye.

“If you have a drippy faucet, that can use a considerable amount of water,” Hain said. “A single water drop a second could be 20 or 30 gallons of water a day.

“Typically, the fixes are inexpensive. The other thing is, not just the inside faucets, but the outside faucets. People don’t tend to think about those.”

There are some uses for water that are essential, Hain said, but things like showers could be shortened.

“Showers generally range five to 10 gallons a minute,” he said. “Obviously if you are in the shower a minute longer than you needed to be, you used 10 gallons of water you didn’t need to use. If you have four people in your house and everybody spends an extra minute in the shower, you’ve used 40 gallons more. If you shower twice a day, it can turn into a significant amount of water.”

When washing clothes or dishes, Hain said to either wait until there’s a full load — or adjust the load size to ensure it isn’t using more water than needed.

“The other thing to think about is, if you conserve water, it’s basically double savings because your sewer bill is based on your metered water usage,” Hain said.

Another tip is adjusting the water softener.

“Is your water softener cycling too often? They use a lot of water,” Hain said, adding the best option is to have a unit that can recharge based on the number of gallons running through it.

Hain said there were many tips on how to save water, including filling a water bottle and putting it in the refrigerator to chill as opposed to let the water run until it turns cold.

But the key is to just be aware of water usage and how a few gallons could be saved.

“A lot of it is being aware of what uses water and what you can do,” he said. “It could be huge. We’re doing well compared to the national average now. But there are a lot of folks out there that aren’t thinking about this stuff.”

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.

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