In 2008, New Kent County developed and adopted a Water Conservation & Management Plan to meet the requirements of the Water Supply Planning and Ground Water Permitting processes. All new developments in New Kent County will be required to provide their own Water Conservation & Management Plan.
Through implementation of water-wise planning, water conservation & management strategies and the development of alternate potable and non-potable supplies and uses, the County can achieve its economic and development goals, while being a leader in water resource management. Careful water use now can extend the planning horizon for gathering the financial resources that research, development, permitting and construction of these alternatives will require. Public Utilities customers can help postpone costly water system projects, and broaden the range of water supply options available by employing simple water conservation strategies in their homes and on their lawns. In 2011, New Kent took a major step in water wise planning through construction of the Parham Landing Reclaimed Water System.
Outdoor Water Use
During the summer months, residential irrigation accounts for over 50% of the water produced and distributed by Public Utilities. Far too often, irrigation systems are mismanaged, resulting in soggy, over-watered lawns, dead grass, unsightly runoff, water stains, and excessively high utility bills. During the summer months, Public Utilities responds to a high number of "phantom leak" reports, which turn out to be runoff and drainage from over-irrigation.
Symptoms of a poorly managed irrigation system: ponding, excessive runoff, dead vegetation.
Following a few simple irrigation tips can pay huge dividends in utility bill savings.
Know Your Irrigation System: Inspect your system for leaking heads or signs of underground leaks.
"But my irrigation system only runs 10 minutes per day!" Is a phrase heard frequently at Public Utilities when bills are received every summer. A typical sprinkler head may flow 2.5 gallons per minute (or more), and a typical lawn may have 12 to 20 (or more) sprinkler heads. The math is simple:
2.5 gpm x 12 heads = 30 gallons per minute
30 gpm x 10 minutes = 300 gallons per day
300 gallons per day x 60 days per billing cycle
= 18,000 gallons of irrigation water per billing cycle
Depending on several factors including your total water usage & sewer billing structure, that 10 minutes of watering per day will add $100 - $300 to your utility bill.
Know Your Lawn: Plant drought resistant turf & landscaping, know the watering needs of your landscape, use a rain gauge & rain sensor to maximize the benefit of natural rainfall, inspect your lawn frequently for signs of over-watering or irrigation leaks.
Plan for Water Conservation: Utilize low-flow irrigation fixtures, "smart" irrigation controllers, rain and/or soil moisture sensors, drought resistant landscaping design & species selection, mulch beds & patios, afternoon shade, etc. to minimize the water needs of your lawn. Utilize rain barrels to collect runoff for hand watering & trickling.
Hire an EPA Water Sense Certified Irrigation Professional: Keep in mind that your water bill may not be your current contractor's top priority. Check the EPA website for a Water Sense Certified irrigation or landscape professional that serves your area. These companies have made the commitment to provide water-wise services in their area of expertise.
Indoor Water Use
Reductions in water use and utility bills can be achieved by following a few simple guidelines during your everyday routine:
- run only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine
- take 5-minute or less showers instead of baths
- turn water off while brushing teeth or shaving
- utilize low flow faucets, toilets & shower heads
Toilets may leak continuously or intermittently, and may be difficult to detect. What sounds like a small leak can have a devastating effect on your utility bill. A one gallon per minute leak (1,440 gallons per day) may cost $20.00 per day or more in water & sewer charges. To check your toilet for a leak, place food coloring in the back of the toilet, and wait 30-45 minutes. If the food coloring finds its way into the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
Unfortunately, some water waste is difficult to avoid and difficult to detect. If an underground leak is suspected or detected, have it repaired and contact Public Utilities immediately. Public Utilities can check the customer's meter for evidence of a leak at no cost. Under certain circumstances, utility bills may be adjusted to account for an underground leak.