For Ocala water customers, conservation of this precious resource is all about dollars—and sense.
As more people move into our region, the demands on the Floridan Aquifer, which supplies the fresh water flowing into our homes and businesses, continues to rise. There are many steps we all can take to help ensure there is enough water available for everyone today and tomorrow. And—bonus!—these easy actions can lower your bill.
The City of Ocala’s Water Resources Conservation Coordinator Rachel Fautsch explains that city water customers use a total of about 13 million gallons of water a day. Even small changes in our routines can have a big impact.
Do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? You might be wasting 9 gallons of water every day and not realize it. Do you water your lawn during the heat of the day? More than half of that water is probably evaporating and not even reaching the roots.
“If you reduce your daily shower by one minute, you’re saving almost 1,000 gallons of water a year,” she explains. “Shut the water off while you’re washing your face. That’s 4 gallons of water a day if you wash your face twice.”
Saving water also means saving money. Customers’ bills stem from a multilevel tier system based on the amount of water they use. Even modest conservation efforts can save the average customer hundreds of dollars a year.
Since half the water used in Ocala is for irrigation, that means people are using 6 million gallons of water every day in the pursuit of a greener lawn. Fautsch urges customers to consider whether irrigation is necessary, to be mindful of automatic irrigation systems that oft en sprinkle your lawn even when it rains and to consider using Florida-friendly landscaping.
Fautsch partnered with Amanda Marek, the UF/IFAS Marion County Florida-friendly Landscaping Coordinator, to create a demonstration garden at the Water Treatment Plant, showcasing more than two dozen plant varieties, including crowngrass, pentas, holly, anise, liriope, juniper, firegrass and magnolias. All of them are flourishing despite not being intentionally watered after establishment more than four years ago. To see the garden and tour the Water Treatment Plant, call (352) 351-6772.
April is Water Conservation Month in Florida. Here are some commonsense ways you can reduce your use.
1. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. You can save 3,212 gallons per year.
2. Shorten your daily shower by just one minute to save more than 900 gallons a year.
3. Choose showers over baths. Taking a five-minute shower rather than a bath can save more than 16,000 gallons per year.
4. Use your dishwasher. This can save 50 gallons over handwashing every time you do dishes.
5. Fix leaky toilets. A leaky flapper can waste up to 200 gallons per day.
6. Fix leaky faucets. A slow but steady drip can waste more than 24,000 gallons in a month.
7. Use your outdoor hose only when needed. Turn it off while washing your car and use a broom to clean walkways rather than your hose—it uses 17 gallons per minute.
8. Consider replacing older appliances. A new, efficient washing machine uses about a third as much water as older models. Replacing an older toilet can save 900 gallons of water per person, per year and installing a more efficient showerhead can save nearly 3,300 gallons per year.
9. Water your lawn only when needed and follow the irrigation ordinance, watering no more than twice per week according to your address number. Don’t irrigate between 10am-4pm or on hot days.
10. Waiting for the water to get hot? Collect that water in a bucket to water plants and pets.
11. Drink tap water instead of bottled water. Keep a pitcher in the refrigerator for a cold, refreshing drink—every 20-ounce bottle of water takes 1.5 gallons to produce.
To schedule a water education presentation, call Rachel Fautsch at (352) 351-6774.
For more information about the City of Ocala Water Resources, visit ocalafl.org/government/city-departments/water-resources.
For more information about Florida-friendly landscaping, visit.sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/florida-friendly-landscaping.