Amarillo takes action on water conservation - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Amarillo takes action on water conservation

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AMARILLO, TEXAS - Texas is now officially in the third worst drought it's ever seen. Tuesday A&M researches revealed only 1918 and 1956 were more severe than this dry spell, and with the forecast for rain not looking good, the city of Amarillo is taking action to make sure we don't run out of drinking water.

While other cities in the area have already implemented voluntary rationing programs, Amarillo city commissioners are hoping several small differences will lead to one big water conservation effort.

"We have plenty of water coming in. We don't need to panic. But we need to be careful and conserve the water that we do have," Mayor Paul Harpole said.

To help encourage that, Amarillo is launching a public service campaign with tips that go beyond common sense - the same measures they'll be implementing on government properties.

"Yeah some of the parks are going to get a little brown. They're not going to die, just get a little brown. And if you see water use that is overuse in the city of Amarillo, please call and let the city know," Commissioner Ellen Robertson Green said.

In fact, the city set up a tip line where you can call in on anyone who's wasting water.

"That is unsustainable. We can't do that. Especially in these drought conditions," Robertson Green said.

But the biggest thing they want to do is tackle the problem of watering lawns. City workers estimate 60 percent of the 88 million gallons record water use Saturday was because of landscaping. The mayor has even half-joked we should change building codes to allow artificial turfs in an effort to get that amount down.

"If we don't then we have to take measures that no body wants to take. But common sense should prevail in this," Harpole said.

Here are some tips the city provides for conserving water:

  • Cooking Tips: Don't use running water to thaw food. Use only the necessary amount of water for cooking. Rinse produce in a pan of clear water, not under a running faucet. 

  • Match the washing machine setting to the actual load size. Wash dishes only when the washer is full or hand wash small loads. 

  • Use the water meter to check for leaks. Turn off all taps, then observe the meter (about 10 minutes) for movement of the sweep hand or flow indicator. 

  • Group your landscape plants by water requirements. Set your sprinklers so they do not water the sidewalk, driveway, or street and use soaker hoses for shrubs and trees. 

  • Turn off the sprinkler system for several days after a good rainfall. Do not "scalp" your turf when mowing. Grass holds water better when it is 1.5" to 2.5" deep. 

  • Apply 1 to 3 inches of mulch in your flower and shrub gardens. This conserves water and helps with weed control. 

  • Irrigate in the early morning (before 10 AM) or in the evening to avoid excessive evaporation. Avoid irrigating in windy weather. Hot, windy air can evaporate up to 60% of the water being used.

  • Take shorter showers - turn water off while shampooing or applying soap. Short showers consume about 1/2 the volume of a typical tub bath. 

  • Install low volume - 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) - toilets. This can save up to 30% of indoor water use. Install a displacement bag in older toilet tanks. Use a dye tablet (or food coloring) to check toilets for leaks. 

  • Collect rainwater for inside and outside plants. Water plants with discarded aquarium water, or dropped/left over ice cubes. Catch cold water in a bucket while waiting for hot water and water plants with the cold water. 

  • Turn water off while shaving or brushing teeth then turn on to rinse. Do not leave water running while washing hands. 

  • Install water efficient shower heads and faucets. Install aerators on faucets - aim for 2 gallons per minute (gpm) flow rate. Check all faucets for leaks, and repair as necessary.