Be Water Wise
Clean, fresh water is a precious resource that is vital to our way of life. To ensure there is sufficient water for us and future generations, we must use this resource wisely.
For information on anything stated in the previous or any other water conservation-related efforts, please contact the Sonoma Marin Saving Water Partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 707-547-1909.
Below are resources to help you save water including rebates and water conservation tips for indoor and outdoor water use that will continue to help our community save water. Click the button on the right to register for leak alerts.
Water Conservation Tips
Indoor Conservation Tips
- Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It's simple, inexpensive, and can save significant gallons of water a week.
- Teach your children to turn the faucets off tightly after each use.
- Make sure there are aerators on all of your faucets.
- Insulate hot water pipes so you don't have to run as much water to get hot water to the faucet.
- When you clean your fish tank, use the water you've drained on your plants. The water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, providing you with a free and effective fertilizer.
- When you give your pet fresh water, don't throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
- While staying in a hotel or even at home, consider reusing your towels.
- When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
- Let your pots and pans soak instead of letting the water run while you clean them.
- Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don't have to let the water run while it heats up.
- Cut back on rinsing dishes if your dishwasher is new. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
- For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
- Select one glass to use for drinking each day. If you do this, your dishwasher will take longer to fill up and it will not need to be run as frequently.
- Thaw foods in the refrigerator or in a bowl of hot water instead of using running water.
- Whenever possible, steam food in as little water as possible instead of boiling; this will also retain more of the nutrients.
- Select the proper size pans for cooking. Large pans require more cooking water than may be necessary.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost trimmings and peelings from fruits and vegetables instead and save gallons every time.
- Wash your produce in the sink or a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap; reuse the water to water houseplants.
- If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don't throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
- Install ultra-low flush or dual flush toilets. The City of Cotati offers rebates for any such retrofits; for more information on this program, visit the Residential Toilet Retrofits page.
- Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
- Listen for dripping faucets and toilets that flush themselves. Fixing a leak can save 500 gallons each month.
- Make sure your toilet flapper doesn't stick open after flushing.
- If your toilet was installed prior to 1980, place a standard size brick or bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to cut down on the amount of water used for each flush. Be sure these devices do not interfere with operating parts.
- Drop your tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save water every time.
- When you are washing your hands, don't let the water run while you lather.
- Plug the bathtub before turning the water on then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
- If your shower can fill a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, then replace it with a water-efficient showerhead. They're inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.
- Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.
- Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. You'll save up to 1000 gallons a month.
- To save water and time, consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.
- Turn off the water while you shave and you can save more than 100 gallons a week.
- Turn the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair and you can save more than 50 gallons a week.
- Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full and you could save 1000 gallons a month.
- When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
- When you shop for a new appliance, consider one offering cycle and load size adjustments. They are more water and energy-efficient than older appliances.
- Choose new water-saving appliances, like washing machines that save up to 20 gallons per load. The City also offers rebates to homes that replace their washing machines with high efficiency machines; for more information on this program, visit the Residential Clothes Washer Rebates page.
Outdoor Conservation Tips
- Make sure you know where your master water shut-off valve is located.
- Teach your family how to shut off your automatic watering systems. Turn sprinklers off if the system is malfunctioning or when a storm is approaching. This could save gallons of water and damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
- Winterize outdoor spigots when temps dip to 20 degrees fahrenheit to prevent pipes from bursting or freezing.
- If you own an evaporative cooling system, be sure and check it annually for higher efficiency. Also, direct the water drain to a flowerbed, tree, or your lawn.
- Make sure your fountains and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps to recycle the water used.
- Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps, especially if you have an automatic refilling device.
- When backwashing your pool, consider using the water on your landscaping.
- Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk and save up to 80 gallons of water every time.
- Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
- Avoid installing ornamental water features and fountains that spray water into the air. Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation.
- Don't buy recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
- When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
- Bathe your pets outdoors in an area in need of water.
- Use a hose nozzle and turn off the water while you wash your car.
- Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
- Report significant water losses from broken pipes, fire hydrants or errant sprinklers to the property owner.
- Don't forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses for leaks. The City offers free audits to detect any unnecessary water use; for more information on this program, visit the Free Water Use Surveys page.
- Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
- Use the sprinkler for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
- Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
- Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering.
- Avoid planting turf in areas that are hard to water such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways; however when watering grass on steep slopes is unavoidable, use a soaker to prevent wasteful runoff.
- Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.
- Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours, when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
- Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.
- Buy a rain gauge to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives. Check with your local water agency to see how much rain is needed to skip an irrigation cycle.
- Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
- Only water your lawn when needed.
- Use a screwdriver as a soil probe to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don't water. Proper lawn watering can save thousands of gallons of water annually.
- Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
- Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
- Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on top of the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
- Use drip irrigation for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots where it's needed.
- Install grey water systems and support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and other uses.
- Choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save gallons of water each year.
- More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when necessary.
- Landscape with Xeriscape trees, plants, and groundcovers. For a list of water-conserving plants, garden tours, galleries, and other landscaping conservation tips provided by the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA).
- Group plants with the same watering needs together to get the most out of your watering time.
- Direct downspouts and other runoff towards shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
- Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
- While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
- Start a compost pile. Using compost when you plant adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
- Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
For large landscaped areas, it makes sense to be as accurate as possible with turf and landscaping water needs to lower water use and water bills. Several weather stations are located in the region to provide evapotranspiration data to be used to create accurate water budgets and water schedules.
La Plaza Garden is a water-efficient demonstration garden that conserves valuable resources. The La Plaza Garden was designed by Sustainable Living Designs, a well known permaculture design firm.
Effective July 1, 2009, Cotati will offer $75 water rebates for Residential High-Efficiency Clothes Washers. The program only rebates High-Efficiency Clothes Washers that are listed as Tier 3 on the Consortium for Energy Efficiency’s Clothes Washer Product List.
In lieu of the free High-Efficiency toilets offered by the City, the City will provide a $100 rebate per toilet for the replacement of up to two toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons per flush with a High-Efficiency toilet on the List of Qualifying Toilet Models (see for sale in California download for a list of qualifying toilets).
Water use reduction is the most direct and efficient water conservation measure that we as individuals and as a community, can take. Landscaping and gardening is one of the biggest areas of water use and in these times of water shortage, it is even more essential to save water.
Saving water and money just got easier and we’ll show you how.
The City of Cotati is offering residential and commercial customers rebates in return for reducing the amount of lawn area in their landscapes and replacing them with low-water use landscapes. The City will rebate you up to $1.50 for every square foot of lawn area removed for a maximum of 500 square feet for a total maximum rebate of $750 for residential and commercial.