As summer draws to a close, some of you may be thinking that your time to conserve is over. While summer is typically our peak water usage period, which makes conserving water critical, in order to reach our long-term conservation goals we need to reduce our water use year round.

For the last six months the Santa Clara Valley Water District has been asking that we all cut back our water use by 15 percent. And while our conservation numbers have been improving, to date we've only reached a 9 percent reduction in water use. With three years of drought behind us and uncertain water supply conditions in our future, that's just not enough.

There are many ways to conserve water year round, but one of the best ways to jump start water conservation is with a free Water-Wise House Call for your home.

During a Water-Wise House Call, the technician:

-checks your toilet for leaks and replaces toilet flapper valves if needed

-measures your showerhead flow rates and installs free showerheads if needed

-measures faucet flow rates and provides aerators for kitchens and bathrooms

The survey's focus then shifts to outdoor water use and the technician then:

-evaluates the efficiency of your irrigation system

-provides you with a personalized irrigation schedule

-identifies overspray, broken or mismatched sprinkler heads, high water pressure and other problems

-provides water conservation rebate program materials and water-wise landscaping tips from the



Residents of single-family homes, condos, townhouses, apartments and mobile homes are invited to participate. The water district also offers a free Water Survey Program for businesses and schools.

When you're thinking about how to conserve water, it's important to remember that more than 50 percent of indoor household water consumption occurs in the bathroom. It's also extremely important to find out if there are any leaks in your outdoor water usage, since more than half of the water used in an average home goes to its landscape.

For a better world, follow these water saving tips:

-Shorten your showers by just 5 minutes and save 15 gallons every time.

-Install faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads and save 16 gallons a day.

-Wait for full loads to wash clothes and dishes and save 20 gallons per load.

-Install high-efficiency toilets and save 25 gallons a day.

-Turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing your teeth and save 2 gallons per minute.

-Fix leaks and save more than 15 gallons per day, per leak.

-Water your lawn before 5 a.m. instead of midday and save 20 gallons every time.

-Landscape with water-wise plants and save 20 gallons a day.

-Clean sidewalks with a broom, not a hose and save 15 gallons every time.

-Apply a layer of mulch around plants to reduce moisture loss and save 20 gallons a day.

-Install drip irrigation for trees, shrubs and plants to save 20 gallons a day.

-Check the efficiency of your irrigation system. Fixing broken sprinkler heads and drip emitters saves 25 gallons a day.

Residents who would like to sign up for a Water Wise House Call can call (800) 548-1882. San Jose Water Co. customers should call 279-7900 to schedule an appointment. To sign up for our Water Use Survey, businesses or schools can call (866) 685-2322. To learn more about our conservation programs and rebates, visit Remember, if we each save 20 gallons a day, together we can make a difference!

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Richard Santos is available for questions or comments as your District Three representative on the Santa Clara Valley Water District for Sunnyvale, Alviso, Milpitas, Berryessa/Alum Rock communities, east of Highway 101 to the Evergreen community area. He can be contacted at 234-7707.