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Project Milwaukee: In-depth reporting on vital issues in the region.

5 Ways To Conserve Water At Home

Want to help conserve water? Sometimes it's all about the little things.

Quality is perhaps the most important part of any water distribution system. Water utilities process every drop that makes it into our plumbing, which takes a lot of time and energy. One way to keep from overburdening the system is by reducing our consumption — what we know as "water conservation."

Bill Graffin works for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, which works in wastewater treatment and conservation efforts in the Milwaukee area. Here are some helpful tips from Graffin on how you can conserve water at home.

» See MoreProject Milwaukee: Great Lakes, Troubled WatersStories

1. Collect and reuse rainwater

Rainwater is not only healthier for your plants, it's healthier for our sewage system. Capturing rain in a bin or cistern helps divert large amounts of water from entering our sewers and gives more nutrients to plants. Just make sure you don't drink it. 

"You never know what's in that water without putting it under a magnifying glass," Graffin cautions.

2. Create a rain garden 

This is a garden that you plant under the downspout of the gutter. It generally consists of native plants or other deep-rooted plants.

"They help break up that soil and help drain more water into the ground," he explains. 

READ: Green Infrastructure Helps Manage Water In Milwaukee's Urban Landscape

3. Fix the drip 

That leaky faucet in the basement is a big drain on the system. While a dripping bathtub or sink may not seem like much, it can waste lots of water. 

"A leaky toilet alone can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day," says Graffin. 

4. Update appliances

Newer dishwashers and washing machines tend to be more energy efficient than older models, and they also use less water. Graffin points to toilets as one of the prime examples of this paradigm. 

"Really old toilets can be 3-5 gallons of water per flush, sometimes higher. Now the new ones are all around 1.28 gallons per flush," he says. 

5. Turn off the faucet 

This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are some activities where people still leave the faucet on needlessly. Many people keep the water running while they do dishes. 

"It's always a good idea to run a full load of dishes in the dishwasher instead of just leaving the faucets on while you do the same amount of dishes. You can run through a lot of water that way," Graffin explains. 

If you don't have a dishwasher, try filling the sink with soap and water to hand wash dishes, instead of keeping the faucet running.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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