Fix A Leak Week: Time To Save Water And Money
By Warren Tenney
Fix a Leak Week is a funny name for a week with a serious message. U.S. homes waste a startling amount of drinking water. The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Over the course of a year, those leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons nationwide – as much as the annual water use of nearly 11 million homes. In 2009 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Program developed the Fix a Leak Week public awareness campaign to encourage homeowners to find and fix leaks in their homes and yards.
EPA launched its national Fix a Leak Week campaign in a Phoenix driveway. EPA and its partners - Arizona Department of Water Resources, City of Phoenix and Ferguson, a bath, kitchen and lighting retailer - set up a demonstration project in front of a family home to show how much water is lost due to leaky plumbing fixtures. The display included two toilets, two faucets, and a showerhead, each slowly dripping. Over the course of the seven days, the fixtures leaked more than 200 gallons of water. By 2010, 26 cities around the country held Fix a Leak Week events. Some cities offered free workshops to find and fix leaks and others mailed leak detection kits to homeowners. Before AMWUA created its Smart Home Water Guide, it marked Fix a Leak Week with an annual One for Water 4-Miler Race around Rio Vista Community Park in the City of Peoria.
In 2014, AMWUA’s Regional Conservation Committee developed and launched the Smart Home Water Guide, a website and 24-page companion booklet with easy step-by-step instructions to detect and fix indoor and outdoor leaks. Here’s a sample of what you can learn from visiting the site.
- Toilet leaks are mostly silent. Toilets are also the most likely fixtures to be wasting water inside your home. The source of the leak is most likely a failing valve or flap in the tank. The Smart Home Water Guide offers a simple way to determine if your toilets are wasting water and instructions on how to replace the parts causing the leak.
- Most drinking water sent to Phoenix Metropolitan homes is used outside to water landscaping – grass, trees, shrubs and vegetables – and to keep pools filled. Irrigation leaks can make your water bill spike. That’s why the Smart Home Water Guide encourages homeowners to regularly turn on their irrigation systems and check for leaks. The Smart Home Water Guide helps homeowners look for leaking valves, broken lines, lost or damaged emitters or cracked sprinkler heads. Pool leaks can be harder to detect. The Smart Home Water Guide provides easy tests to determine if your pool or pool equipment are leaking.
- Both the Smart Home Water Guide website and its companion booklet offer a glossary called Water Speak 101. It contains the vocabulary most often used by professionals in the industry, so homeowners are knowledgeable about the basics when explaining problems to plumbers and landscapers.
The colorful Smart Home Water Guide site and companion booklet is hosted by the AMWUA #SmartPig. The booklet is available in both English and Spanish and also online in Spanish at www.guiaparadetectarfugas.org. The printed guides are free and available from your city's water conservation department.
EPA reports that fixing household water leaks can save average homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills. Perhaps you can set aside some time this week to visit the Smart Home Water Guide and fix leaks that could save money and water. Need more motivation? The United Nation’s 24th World Water Day is March 22, right in the middle of Fix a Leak Week. This is a day set aside to consider the plight of 2.1 billion people around the globe who live without safe drinking water at home. We are fortunate to have safe drinking water delivered to our homes and businesses all day every day. Once it arrives, it’s our responsibility to use it carefully and conserve what we can.
For 49 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.