Water Conservation

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The City relies on groundwater pumped from City owned wells to meet 100% of its potable water demands with the balance of its overall water demands met with eco-friendly recycled water. Consequently, Downey is able to provide low-cost water to its residents and businesses at better rates than many surrounding communities. Nevertheless, the multi-year drought conditions and diminishing water access have made water conservation a priority for Southern California residents.

Water Use Restrictions

On May 5,2015 the State Water Board adopted a new water conservation Emergency Regulation (Fact Sheet) which took effect on May 18, 2015 which added new water waste prohibitions summarized below in addition to existing and current prohibitions. The Emergency Regulation mandates a 20% reduction in potable water use for all City water usersfocused on reducing non-essential water use including landscape irrigation. The State has made non-compliance with such prohibitions punishable by a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each day in which the violation occurs.

New State Mandated Water Waste Prohibitions

(State Water Waste Prohibitions)

  • Mandatory 20% reduction in potable water use in Downey.
  • Potable water landscape irrigation outside newly constructed homes and buildings shall comply with CA Building Standards Commission and Department of Housing and Community Development requirements.

(Water Supplier Self Certification)

Existing and Current State Mandated Water Waste Prohibitions

Except where necessary to address an immediate health and safety need or to comply with a permit issued by a state or federal agency:

  • No use of potable water on outdoor landscaping during/within 48 hrs after measurable rainfall.
  • No Serving drinking water unless requested at all eating/drinking establishments.
  • Hotels and motels shall provide guests the option of choosing not to have towels/linens laundered daily and shall post a display of this option for its guests.
  • No potable water irrigation runoff onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures.
  • No washing motor vehicles except by use of a bucket or hose equipped with a
    shut-off nozzle.
  • No wash down of driveways and sidewalks.
  • No use of potable water in a fountain or other decorative water feature,
    unless equipped with a recirculating system.

Sweeping a drivewayHosing off a driveway
Left: Patio sweeping allowed. Right: Hosing down driveway not allowed.

Click here (Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)) for answers to FAQs about the State Mandated Water Waste Prohibitions.

City Mandated Water Use Restrictions

Due to the severe drought, the City of Downey recently adopted an Urgency Ordinance (City Water Use Restrictions) in response to California's State of Emergency and the State-mandated 20% reduction in potable water use for all City water users. The City urges all water users to become a part of the water conservation movement by reviewing and putting into action the Water Use Restrictions summarized on this website to ensure compliance with the State Water Board’s mandates and to preserve the State’s precious water resources.

See below for information on rebates and water conservation tips, along with informative links to help customers conserve water.

Water Rebate Opportunities

IcePlantA high-efficiency toilet
Left: Turf Replacement. Right: High Efficiency Toilets

Water Conservation Tips

Conserving water is one of the best methods to protect our water resources and save residents and businesses money. Listed below are a number of important water conservation tips and informative links designed to help you save water and money on your water bill.

Irrigation and Drought Tolerant Landscaping Tips

A drought-friendly landscapeLandscaping can consume 50% or more of the water used at a property. There are many ways to minimize water used for landscape irrigation such as:

  • Water in the early morning or late evening to minimize water lost to evaporation and wind exposure.
  • Reduce watering to 2-3 days per week and 6 minutes per cycle or less.
  • Use drip irrigation.
  • Use organic mulch around plants and trees to reduce evaporation.

If you are looking for an even greater reduction in water used on your landscape, the City highly encourages you to consider replacing your backyard and front yard lawn with drought tolerant landscaping. Due to the high surface area, lawns require a significant amount of water to maintain in good condition. Replacing lawns with drought tolerant landscaping will not only greatly reduce your water usage it will also have a significant impact in reducing your water bill.

When it comes to drought tolerant landscaping, there are numerous options. Please click on the link above which will provide you with the information you need to start your landscaping improvements along with an exhaustive guide of drought tolerant plant types.

Please remember to take advantage of turf replacement rebates when implementing your project.

Faucet Tips

Installing low-flow faucet aerators can reduce the amount of water flowing from your (Kitchen/Bathroom) faucet by 50 percent, saving approximately 1,000 gallons of water a year for two faucets. You will still get a great stream of water and installation is easy. Choose aerators with a maximum 1.5 gallon per minute (GPM) flow rate for bathrooms and 2.2 GPM for kitchen or laundry sinks.

Car Washing Tips

Commercial car washes recycle water on-site or send it to a water treatment facility, where it is cleaned and returned to the water cycle. Washing your car at home can use two to three times more water than a commercial car wash, and the water that flows into the street can't be recovered and reused. If you wash your car at home, make sure you put a nozzle on your hose, or you will waste water and may be cited for a water waste violation.

Garden Hose Tips

A garden hose can use more than 10 gallons of water per minute. To minimize water waste, try these tips:

  • Use a spray nozzle with a shutt-off handle on your hose so water doesn't flow continuously.
  • Sweep your driveway and sidewalks with a broom. Don't spray them down with water.
  • Check your hose connections for leaks.
  • Use hose gaskets between spigots and water hoses to eliminate leaks.
  • Rake and sweep leaves—rather than spraying them down.
  • Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Use a hose to water brown spots on your lawn.

Kitchen Tips

Faucets consume about 16 percent of the water used inside your home. Installing efficient faucet aerators can reduce faucet water use by 50 percent. Your kitchen faucet should not have a flow rate of more than 2.2 gallons per minute.

Save Water - Use The Dishwasher

When used properly, dishwashers can be more efficient than hand washing. Only run the dishwasher when it's completely full, and use the water-level settings for the most efficient run.

If you don't have a dishwasher, here are some easy ways to save water:

  • Fill your sink with water for rinsing.
  • Don't run the water without plugging the sink.
  • Turn faucets off when not in use.
  • Use a kitchen faucet aerator.

Laundry Room Tips

Laundry consumes about 21 percent of water used inside the home. Each load of laundry uses between 27 to 54 gallons of water.

  • Purchase a high-efficiency washing machine and reduce water and energy usage up to 50%.
  • Only wash full loads to save both water and energy.
  • Use the water level setting if your washer has one. Some loads take less water than others.

Finding Leaks

You know you have a leak when your faucet drips, but do you know how to find a hidden leak? Finding and fixing leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on water bills and as much as 11,000 gallons of water wasted per year. If you suspect you have hidden water leaks, follow these tips to find them. First, make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your home.

Locate Your Water Meter

About 90 percent of all area residential water meters are located in the front sidewalk / parkway area. The first step is to make sure all water usage is stopped and then to check your water meter for movement. Look at the top of the meter. You'll notice a triangle called a flow indicator. It will move whenever water is passing through it. If your meter doesn't have a flow indicator, you can use the sweep hand on the register to indicate water loss. If either the flow indicator or the sweep hand is moving, you may have a leak or malfunction.

Check Your Toilets

Locating a leak is a process of elimination. Shut off one toilet at a time at the wall. In between each shutoff, go out to the water meter and check your flow indicator. If the small, red flow-indicator triangle is moving, that toilet is not the problem. Something else is causing a leak. If the small triangle stopped moving, that means that toilet in question is the culprit.

More than 20 percent of gravity-flush toilets leak. If you are not sure about your ability to perform any of these steps, please contact a licensed plumber.

Note: These tips pertain to traditional gravity-flush toilets and not high-efficiency toilet models.

Where To Begin: A continuous trickling sound usually means water is running over the top of the overflow tube inside the tank. The periodic sound of water being added to the tank usually means a leaky flapper at the bottom of the tank.

Continuous Trickling Sound: Remove the toilet tank lid and conduct a visual inspection. Flush the toilet and observe the process. Look for obvious problems.

  • Check to see if the refill water level is set properly and does not rise over the top of the overflow tube.
  • To lower the water level, adjust the float lower.
  • On a bulb-on-arm style toilet, adjust the screw near where the float arm attaches to the float valve.
  • On newer valve and float units, adjust the float by moving the float downward on the vertical rod.

If the toilet continues to run, even with the float adjusted, you should replace the refill valve with a new unit from your local hardware store.

Periodic Toilet Refills Without Flushing: "Ghost" or "phantom" flushing is usually the result of a worn rubber flapper that is allowing water to seep from the tank into the bowl and down the sewer. An improperly adjusted flapper chain also could cause the problem.

Conduct a simple dye test to see if water is seeping from the tank. Request an Indoor Water Audit and Retrofit Kit from your local hardware store, which includes leak detection dye tablets. Or, use food coloring or a powdered drink mix to noticeably color the water in the toilet tank.

  • Place the dye tablets or coloring agent in the toilet tank.
  • The tank water will change color, while the toilet bowl water should be clear.
  • Wait 10 minutes.
  • Check to see if any coloration appears in the bowl. If so, then you have a leaking flapper valve.

Note: If you normally use products that color the water in the tank or bowl such as a sanitizer, remove them and flush the toilet until the water in the bowl and tank are clear before you begin the dye test.

Replacing Worn Toilet Parts: Turn off the water supply valve to the tank. This is usually located on the wall under the toilet. Flush the toilet to drain the water.

Select appropriate replacement parts from the hardware store and follow the manufacturer's directions to install them.

After installing the parts, turn the water on and test-flush the toilet once or twice. If you replaced the flapper, perform the dye test again to ensure the flapper fits properly. Not all flappers fit properly in all toilets so you may still have a leak.

In some cases, a leaking flapper may be the result of a worn surface on the seat against which the flappers rests. You can try smoothing the seat with steel wool or a scouring pad. If this doesn't correct the problem, you may need to replace the flapper seat and overflow tube assembly.

Check Your Sprinkler System

Shut off the anti-siphon valve that serves your sprinkler system. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the water meter. If the flow indicator stopped moving, the sprinkler system is the problem.

Check Your Water Softener

Most softeners have a bypass lever. Turn the lever to allow water to bypass the softener. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the meter. If the triangle is no longer moving, you have isolated the leak to your softener. (You also can check for leaking swamp coolers, water-cooled air conditioners, ice machines and reverse osmosis units by turning the bypass lever on each and checking the meter.)

Check Your Main Service Line

First, you need to find your water shutoff valve. This is usually in your front yard near the sewer riser cap, in your garage, or near your water softener unit. Shut off the valve, cutting off all water to your home, and go in the house and turn on a faucet to make sure the water is off. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the meter. If the red triangle is moving, the leak is between the shutoff valve and the water meter.

Now What?

First, close the water meter cap to prevent damage to the lens and place back the meter box lid. If you are not able to find the leak, call a professional plumber to locate and fix the leak(s). If you find a simple leak like your toilet flapper or kitchen faucet, you may want to fix the problem yourself.

Faucet Leaks

A leaky faucet can waste several gallons of water per day. In addition, a dripping faucet may deteriorate a sink bowl and provide moisture for ants, flies and other insects.

With so many types of faucets on the market, the best source of repair information for a specific product may be the manufacturer's website. However, most faucets have a similar assembly with the same basic parts. Most bathrooms are equipped with mixing faucets or stem faucets, which control the temperature settings through the use of the "hot" and "cold" handles. Both faucets have two individual units which may need to be repaired.

A repair kit can be purchased at your local hardware store. The kit should include a special adjusting ring wrench, seals, springs and O-rings. Also, washer assortment kits may be more cost-effective than buying washers individually.

Pool and Spa Tips

A properly managed pool or spa can help save water and money.

Cover Your Pool: An exposed pool loses 50 to 70 gallons of water per square foot per year to evaporation. During the hot summer months, you may lose up to 4 inches of water each week.

Pool covers reduce evaporation by 90 percent, limit windblown debris, and conserve energy.

Protect The Pool From Wind: Wind exposure can increase evaporation in uncovered pools. Plant trees and shrubs that buffer your pool, but won't shed or drop leaves in the water.

Maintain Pool Filters: Wash cartridge filters when your pump operating pressure increases by 10 psi (pounds per square inch). You can wash cartridges on landscape areas since chlorinated pool water is diluted with clean water. Never allow wash water to run into the street.

Manage Water Quality: Test pool and spa water frequently and maintain appropriate chemical balances.

Heat Pool Conservatively: Warmer water means higher evaporation rates. Professionals recommend 78 degrees Fahrenheit as the ideal recreational pool temperature.

Test For Leaks In Your Pool: This four-step bucket test may help you determine if you have a leak or a high evaporation rate.

  1. Turn off the automatic fill valve.
  2. Place a bucket on a step where the bucket rim is at least a few inches above the water line. Place a heavy weight in the bucket and add water until the water level inside the bucket is equal with the water level in the pool.
  3. Leave the bucket and pool undistributed for several hot days, and then compare the water level in the bucket to the water level in the pool.
  4. If the water level in the bucket is noticeably higher than the water level in the pool, you may be losing water to a leak. Contact a pool leak detection specialist.

High Efficiency Toilets

The newest generation of high-efficiency toilets (HETs) are 20 percent more efficient than current federal standards. HETs not only take water efficiency to higher levels, they are frequently capable of flushing more waste. HETs are currently offered by all major fixture manufacturers.

The most revered measure of toilet performance is the Maximum Performance (MP) ratings which realistically evaluate the maximum amount of solid waste specific toilet models can consistently flush. At minimum, a toilet should be able to reliably flush at least 250 grams of solid waste and 24 sheets of toilet paper. The MP test rates toilets’ flushing abilities up to 1,000 grams.

Surprisingly, there is very little correlation between the amount of water flushed and the effectiveness of a toilet. In testing, some 3.5 gallon per flush toilets cannot consistently flush 250 grams of waste, while some 1.1 gallon toilets reliably flush a full 1,000 grams.

Historically, toilets have relied upon a rubber flapper at the bottom of the tank as a means to dam water into the tank, and then release it quickly into the bowl when the toilet was flushed. These flappers typically wear out within a few years, but many homeowners neglect to replace them. Studies have found that about 20 percent of all toilets have a flapper that fails to seal the tank outlet, allowing thousands of gallons to be invisibly lost down the sewer. When selecting a new toilet, consider the value of flapper less designs which may improve water savings for the long term.

HET’s can be dual-flush, pressure-assisted, or gravity flush. Each technology has pros and cons.

Dual-Flush HETs: These toilets have two-flush controls: one for liquid waste and the other for solids. When used properly, the overall average flush volume is typically around 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf). A variety of quality manufacturers make dual-flush toilets, some meeting the 1,000 gram test maximum. Some dual-flush toilets are lever operated, requiring the user to raise the lever for a small flush and depress the lever for a full flush. Others have two distinct buttons to select the flush. With the lever style dual-flush toilets, there is a possibility that users will not be conscientious enough to lift the lever when a small flush will suffice, thus resulting in higher than expected water use. The button style design requires a conscious decision.

Pressure-Assisted HETs: These toilets employ a closed vessel inside the tank. When pressurized water enters the vessel, air is compressed at the top. When the water is released, the air expands rapidly, creating a high-velocity jet of water that pushes the waste through the trap. Manufacturers make pressure-assisted HETs that flush with just 1.1 gallons and are capable of consistently disposing of 500 to 1,000 grams in a single flush. Although pressurized units have become quieter, some people object to the brief, but noisy flush. A benefit of pressurized units is that they are flapper-less.

Gravity Flush HETs: The new generations of gravity flush high-efficiency toilets typically have enlarged flappers and waste trap ways. Through computer modeling and extensive testing, engineers have developed models with superior siphoning action to help pull the waste through the bowl. Gravity flush HETs are available that are capable of flushing up to 1,000 grams of solid waste. Gravity flush HETs use flappers and many of the flappers are proprietary, which may make it difficult to find replacements at a neighborhood hardware store.

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