September 12, 2007 | By: Carol Lea Spence

Despite some rain falling on parts of Kentucky over the past few days, the state remains locked in drought conditions. Across the Commonwealth, the level of reservoirs, lakes and rivers continues to drop. However, if everyone took simple measures at home to save water, it would have a huge impact on Kentucky’s water reserves. 

Ashley Osborne, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension associate for environmental and natural resource issues, said, “It would save quite a bit of water if we all tried to conserve water while cooking and cleaning or if we all took a Navy shower,” referring to the practice of only running shower water to wet down and rinse off. 

By practicing the following simple conservation methods, Osborne said a family of four could save 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of water a year. That’s not only good for the environment, but it’s good for the budget.

Don’t let water run longer than necessary. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Wet the toothbrush and put a little water in a glass, which can then be used to rinse. When washing your hands, don’t keep the water running.

When bathing, take five. Take a five minute shower, or if a bath is your preference, use no more than five inches of water in the tub.

Appliances and faucets can leak. Though a slow leak or drip might not seem like much, it can add up to a lot of wasted water and a big water bill. In a single day, a dripping faucet can send 25 gallons of water down the drain. 

Check your toilet for leaks. Put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Check the bowl after an hour. If the color shows up in the bowl, there’s a leak in the system. A leak can be caused by a broken flush valve, which is easily and inexpensively replaced. Call a plumber or head to your local hardware store.

Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator, to avoid running the tap for cold water. If you must run the tap to clear the line of accumulated lead deposits, catch the runoff in a bowl and use it to water house plants or parched shrubs.

Osborne also suggests cooking meals that don’t use water. Fixing one-dish meals in which the meats and vegetables create their own water can save quite a few gallons over the course of a year.

Many municipalities have begun watering restrictions. On days when you are permitted to water your landscape, concentrate more on watering young shrubs and trees. Don’t worry about your grass. It will go dormant during hot, dry weather, but will revive once rain and cooler temperatures set in. Throw another layer of mulch around the base of your shrubs and trees to conserve soil moisture. Make sure you water in the early morning or evening, to keep water from being lost through evaporation. Water under the plants rather than with radiating sprinklers, which lose moisture through evaporation during the hottest part of the day. Check your hoses, sprinklers and faucets for leaks. Usually replacing the washer will correct the problem for only a few cents.

“If everybody followed these tips all throughout Kentucky, it would make a big difference,” Osborne said.

For more water conservation tips, contact the local extension office.


Ashley Osborne, 859-257-2505