From Green Right Now Reports

Freshwater is precious, and it’s not getting more plentiful.

We know we need to conserve, but it’s often hard to see the results of our efforts and to find new ways to cut back.Water-HiRes PROMO

Fortunately, we have extension agents. In 2011, a group of them from land grant universities in the South collaborated on a list of every possible way people can reduce their water consumption.

Then they estimated the average water savings for each measure, demonstrating that if you just took a couple steps, you could easily save 40 gallons a day. Thus, they created the 40 Gallon Challenge.

For instance, say you just shorten your shower by two minutes (you know you could probably shorten it by five, c’mon). That would translate into saving five gallons of water each day. That’s 20 gallons of savings for a family of four.

There’s something to feel good about.

Glass of Water 3

Why save? It’s obvious.

Want to save another 14 gallons? Install just three faucet aerators with flow restrictors on kitchen or bathroom faucets.

Do you have a flower or vegetable garden that needs watering? Set up a rain barrel that’s at least 55-gallons and you’ll capture enough rainwater to save five gallons a day [assuming Mother Nature cooperates].

Now we’re saving some water. About 40 gallons!

Commit to continuing these savings by signing up for the 40 Gallon Challenge and checking off a specific new action you plan to take. There are no prizes, except one big one, you’ll be helping your state avert a water shortage.

And you will may save some money on your next water bill.

“Saving a minimum of 40 gallons a day for 30 days adds up to more than 1,000 gallons per month,” according to the 40 Gallon Challenge. (Actually, it adds up to 1,200 gallons a month.) So that would easily be reflected on most bills, which record usage in 1,000-gallon increments.

Here’s your list of options, and how much water each step is expected to save each day or per event. My comments are in [brackets].


Run the dishwasher only when full . . .  Save 2 gallons

Turn off water in between rinsing dishes . . . Save 5 gallons

Turn off water while brushing teeth . . . Save 8 gallons

Shorten showers by two minutes . . . Save 5 gallons

Low Flow showerhead 1.6 GPM, feels like 2.5 GPM Hansgrohe brand

This low-flow showerhead uses 1.6 gallons per minute, down from the typical 2.5 GPM.

Fill the bathtub half full while bathing . .  . Saves 18 gallons [but only if you take baths]

Do not use the toilet as a wastebasket . . . People do this? Saves 2 gallons

Wash only full loads of laundry, thereby cutting back one load per week. . . Save 5 gallons

Fix a leaky faucet . . . Save 15 gallons

Fix a leaky toilet . . . Save 30 gallons

Install three faucet aerators with flow restrictions on kitchen/bath faucets . . . Save 14 gallons

Purchase a new efficient clothes washer . . . Save 10 gallons

Replace an old inefficient toilet with a low-flush model . . . Save 8 gallons

Replace an old non-efficient showerhead with a low-flow showerhead . . . Save 20 gallons


Make a compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal . . . Save 4 gallons

Use a rain barrel greater than or equal to 55 gallons to capture water for the garden . . . Save 5 gallons

Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks . . . Save 22 gallons

Water lawn after midnight and before 10 a.m. . . . Save 20 gallons

Reduce irrigation station run times by two minutes . . . Save 80 gallons

Eliminate one irrigation cycle per week . . . Save 30 gallons [By replacing turf with natives or hardscape]

Adjust sprinklers to reduce overspray onto sidewalks, driveways etc. . . . Save 20 gallons

Repair one broken pipe leak or sprinkler head . . . Save 20 gallons

Add mulch 2-3 inches deep around trees and plants for 1,000 square feet of coverage . . . Save 25 gallons

Install a water efficient drip irrigation system . . . Save 20 gallons

Install a smart irrigation controller that adjust for precipitation . . . Save 40 gallons

Use automatic car wash that recycles water instead of hand washing . . . Save 18 gallons

Replace 1,000 s.f. of high water-use landscape with low-water use landscape . . . Save 40 gallons

Repair one leak around a pool or spa pump . . . Save 20 gallons

Repair any leaking hose bibs . . . Save 20 gallons

Install a pool cover to reduce evaporation. . . Save 30 gallons

Install a spa cover to reduce evaporation. . . Save 5 gallons

The 40 Gallon Challenge was funded by the Southern Region Water Program and coordinated by water education teams at the Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.

Think you can add to it? Send your ideas to Put save water in the subject line. Thanks.