Ways to reduce water use during Birmingham’s extreme drought

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Friday, the Birmingham Water Works announced a Stage 4 Extreme Drought Emergency.

Despite the reduction in daily water use since they upgraded to a stage 3 in October, they say because of the record high temps, low humidity and no rain in the forecast for longer than the next week, they need customers to use even less water.

We thought we’d find some tips to help you accomplish that, and hopefully avoid the 400 percent surcharge. All information is from the Alliance for Water Efficiency website. 

Always wash a full load of dishes or clothes

  • A conventional washer built before 2011 uses 40 gallons a load, more efficient ones use as little as 15.
  • Always adjust the water level to the load size.

Check your faucets

  • Fix any leaks, and ensure you have an EPA labeled WaterSense efficient faucet and aerator that uses a maximum of 1.5 gallons a minute.
  • A leaky faucet that drips 50 drops a minute wastes 192 gallons a month.

Flush less 

  • You know the saying…if it’s yellow, let it mellow. It might feel kind of icky, but it can help. Depending on the model, some older toilets use up to 3.5 gallons a flush. If it’s an option, consider replacing older toilets with a more efficient one that uses less than a gallon and a half per flush.

Insulate your pipes

  • It’s not freezing cold yet, but it’s November and there’s a cold front moving in. Take the time now to insulate your pipes so they don’t burst during freezing cold temps this winter.

Replace your showerhead for more efficient water use

  • It’s the same idea as the faucet–the EPA has WaterSense labeled showerheads that reduce the amount of water used without the pressure.

Take shorter showers, or turn the water off after lathering until you need to rinse

  • Again, this one feels a little weird, but it’ll help conserve water.

Maximize your running water

  • If it takes time for hot water to reach the shower, put a bucket under the tap until it is hot, and put it to good use (water house plants, water for pets, use it to do the dishes)

Defrost in the fridge

  • Don’t use running water to defrost frozen food, instead put it in the fridge overnight

Wash your car at a carwash that recycles the water

  • We’ve reached out to several local carwashes to see if they recycle their water. We heard back from Blue Rain Express Car Wash, who tells us they recycle 80 percent of their water.

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