Southern Utilities customers will no longer be required to follow mandatory water use restrictions beginning Saturday.
The company implemented Stage 2 of its drought contingency plan on July 26 restricting all recreational water use. Shut-off nozzles were required to be installed on all outside water hoses and landscape irrigation systems and lawn watering methods were restricted to one day per week.
Effective Saturday, customers are now asked to voluntarily restrict usage as the company downgrades to Stage 1.
“Due to the expected drought in its service area, Southern Utilities Company will continue with implementing Stage 1 of its drought contingency plan. This high demand is primarily created by active landscape irrigation systems and outside residential water use,” the company said in a letter mailed to customers and posted on its website.
Although no longer mandatory, the company requests customers voluntarily limit their water usage as much as possible to “maintain sufficient capacity and pressure to adequately operate the water system.”
“Any water use that is not essential for health, safety and sanitary purposes should be voluntarily reduced,” the company said in its letter. “Voluntary compliance, by all customers, with the voluntary restrictions of Stage (1) should allow an adequate supply of water for all customers. Be assured, Southern Utilities Company’s drinking water system maintains adequate capacity, pressure, and volume to satisfy all customer demand ...”
Residential and recreational water usage that should be voluntarily limited, includes but is not limited to, activities such as outside washing of home windows/siding, driveways, vehicles, boats and trailers.
Southern Utilities also asks customers to limit the use of all landscape irrigation systems and outside lawn watering methods to two days per week. Even number street addresses should water between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; odd number street addresses should water between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Water conservation tips
Southern Utilities also provided a detailed list of conservation tips for using water inside and outside the home. Those tips include the following:
- Scrape dishes clean instead of rinsing them before washing.
- Use a pan of water, or place a stopper in the sink, for washing and rinsing pots, pans, dishes, and cooking implements rather than turning on the water faucet each time a rinse is needed.
- Never run the dishwasher without a full load.
This will save water, energy, detergent and money.
Use the garbage disposal sparingly or start a compost pile.
- Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator. Running water from the tap until it is cool is wasteful.
Better still, both water and energy can be saved by keeping cold water in a picnic jug on the kitchen counter to avoid opening the refrigerator door frequently.
- Use a small pan of cold water when cleaning fruits and vegetables rather than running water from the faucet over them.
- Use only a little water in the pot and put a lid on it for cooking most food. Not only does this method save water, but food is more nutritious since vitamins and minerals are not poured down the drain with the extra cooking water.
- Take a shower instead of a bath. Showers with low-flow shower heads often use less water than taking a bath.
- Reduce the level of the water being used in a bathtub by one or two inches if a shower is not available.
- Shampoo hair in the shower. Shampooing in the shower takes only a little more water than is used to shampoo hair during a bath and much less than shampooing and bathing separately.
When building a new home or remodeling a bathroom, install a low-flow shower head that limits the flow to less than 3 gallons per minute and a new low-volume flush toilet which is required to use 1.6 gallons per flush or less.
- When toilets cannot be replaced, consider displacing some of the water in the tank. Plastic bottles, such as clean, empty milk or chlorine jugs, can be filled with water and weighted down with a few stones and then placed in the most open portion of the tank. This will save as much water as is displaced by the bottle.
- Make sure the bottle does not interfere with the operation of the moving parts in the tank. Displacement devices should be checked periodically to ensure that they remain in place. NOTE: Do not use bricks as a displacement device. They will erode and the particles can clog your drainage system.
- Test toilets for leaks and if leaks are discovered, repair them immediately.
- Never use the toilet to dispose of cleansing tissues, cigarette butts or other trash.
- When brushing teeth, turn the water off until it is time to rinse.
- When shaving, fill the lavatory basin with warm water instead of letting the water run continuously.
- Install faucet aerators to reduce water consumption.
- Traditional clothes washers use approximately 41 gallons per load, while high efficiency machines use only 23 gallons per load. Replace outdated machines whenever possible.
- Wash only a full load when using an automatic washing machine (32 to 59 gallons per load is required).
- Whenever possible, use the lowest water-level setting on the washing machine for light or partial loads.
- Use cold water as often as possible to save energy and to conserve the hot water for uses that cold water cannot serve.
Private plumbing system
- Check water requirements of various models and brands when considering purchasing any new appliances. Some use significantly less water than others.
- Check all water line connections and faucets for leaks. A slow drip can waste as much as 170 gallons of water each day (5,000 gallons per month) and will add cost to your water bill.
- Learn to repair faucets so that drips can be corrected promptly. It is easy to do, costs very little, and can mean a substantial savings in plumbing and water bills.
- Check for hidden water leakage such as a leak between the water meter and the house. To check, turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and water-using appliances. Repair all leaks on your private plumbing system immediately.
- Insulate all hot water pipes to reduce the delays (and wasted water) experienced while waiting for the water to run hot.
- Be sure the water heater thermostat is not set too high. Extremely hot settings waste water and energy because the water often has to be cooled with cold water before it can be used. Setting the thermostat too high can also be dangerous, as water too hot can result in scalding or burns.
- Use a moisture meter to determine when house plants need water. More plants die from overwatering than from needing water.
Lawn and garden
Water yards only when needed. Look at the grass, feel the soil, or use a soil moisture meter 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. One and a half inches of water applied once a week in the summer will keep most Texas grasses alive and healthy.
- Water lawns early in the morning during the hotter summer months. Otherwise, much of the water used on the lawn can evaporate between the sprinkler heads and the grass.
- To avoid excessive evaporation, use a sprinkler head that produces large drops of water, rather than a fine mist. Sprinkler heads that send droplets out on a low angle also help control evaporation.
- Set automatic sprinkler systems to provide thorough, but infrequent watering. Pressure regulating devices should be set to design specifications. Rain shutoff devices can prevent watering in the rain.
- 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 also.
- Use a broom to sweep all streets, sidewalks, walkways, driveways, etc. rather than washing with water.
- Vehicle washing should be done with a handheld bucket or a handheld garden hose equipped with a positive shutoff nozzle for quick rinses. Do not allow garden hoses to run continuously.