Posts tagged ‘water’

Chasing Leaks


Spring has finally sprung! The snow has melted, green grass is emerging, and bright sunshine is starting to warm the Midwest. This time of year causes many people to go on a spree of “spring cleaning” but there is one important issue that can come up during this time as well and is often forgot: water leaks.

The US Environmental Protection Agency offers an abundance of helpful tips and tricks to get a handle on your household leaks and stop wasting large amounts of water and money. More than 1 trillion gallons of water is wasted annually in the United States due to household leaks. An average household could wash 270 loads of laundry with all of its water wasted yearly! Not only could you be saving big on water, fixing these common leaks can save about 10% on water bills as well.

Common leaks in households include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaking valves. The EPA offers many solutions for both checking leaks and fixing easy leaks around your home.

To Check For Leaks:

  1. Look at your water usage during the colder months. A family of four should not exceed 12,000 gallons. If you have, this could mean there are some bad leaks.
  2. Check the water meter before and after a two-hour period. If the meter does not read the same for both times, then there is most likely a leak.
  3. Check for toilet leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank and checking the bowl after 15 minutes. If any of the food coloring is visible in the bowl, there is a leak.
  4. Check for surface leaks by examining faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of them.

To Fix Leaks:

  1. Easily replace your toilet flapper from a hardware store or a plumber. Bring your broken toilet flapper in order to purchase the correct type.
  2. Pipe tape, or Teflon tape, can be used to seal a variety of pipe leaks around the home.
  3. Replace outdoor hoses or repair them with pipe tape and rubber washers.

If any leak seems too extreme to handle on your own, be sure to call a local plumber and start saving water and money in your household right away!


April 13, 2015 at 10:21 am Leave a comment


Recently we have addressed things going down our storm drains and their connection to our lakes along with the link between energy and water conservation.  Today we are adding one more topic relating to healthy water.  A lot of people do not realize that putting hazardous materials down the drain or toilet can have harmful effects on the environment, our health and can cause costly repairs to home sewer systems, as well as city systems.  


Even though an item says “flushable” Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District recommends throwing these items away instead.   Another option, when possible would be to use reusable items that can be washed instead of thrown away or flushed.  Examples: cloth cleaning rags, cloth napkins, reusable shopping bags.  If you have items you are not sure how to dispose of or which things  should not be flushed this helpful flyer will be able to answer questions as well as provide locations to take special items for proper disposal.   You can also visit or call 608-222-1201.


November 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

Energy and Water- more connected than we think

Did you know that when you use water, you’re using electricity as well?  In this area, most of the water that flows from your faucet and fills your toilet  is supplied by city wells.  These wells are maintained and operated by local Utility companies that pump and transport water to your home.  Powering the wells has a cost which is paid by the Utility companies and then passed on to customers through utility bills.

By conserving water we are not only helping ensure a healthy water supply but we are also contributing to energy conservation.  Here are a couple indoor efforts you can take to save water, energy and money.

A first step is to make sure that none of your indoor fixtures are leaking water.  “For example, a leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water everyday.  As little as one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year,” says Kristofer Canto, City of Fitchburg Sustainability Intern.  Not only does this add unnecessary costs to your utility bill it is also using energy.  A few places to check for leaks around your home include faucets, shower heads, washers, toilets and irrigation connections.  One way to see if you need to check more thoroughly for leaks is (if possible) look at your water meter when you know none of your water using items are on.  If the dial is turning, water is still being used.

Another step to take is to purchase WaterSense labeled products.  This will help increase the efficiency of your household fixtures.  “Installing a WaterSense labeled aerator for your kitchen or bathroom faucet is one of the most cost effective ways to save water and will increase the faucet’s efficiency by 30 percent,” states  Kristofer Canto, City of Fitchburg Sustainability Intern.  (Generally, aerators can be found for under $10.00 at your local hardware store.)

Installing an efficient toilet can provide equal performance while saving around 20 percent more water.  Look for a WaterSense labeled toilet and it could save another $90 annually on a water utility bill and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet (based on a family of four).  And if saving money on your utility bill isn’t enough of an incentive, the City of Fitchburg and the Madison Water Utility are offering Toilet Replacement Rebates!  People can get up to $100 towards their new toilet if they replace older, less efficient toilets with a High Efficiency Toilet (HET) model.  The HET toilets use on average 1.28 gallons of water per flush compared to some of the older models that use around 6 gallons per flush.  That’s a big difference!

For additional details about the City of Fitchburg rebate visit:           

For more details on the Madison Water Utility Program rebate visit:


Don’t live in Madison or Fitchburg?  Try contacting your local Utility company to see what types of rebates they may offer.  You never know!

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November 20, 2013 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

“Water Is Worth It”



Friday, October 18th marks the 41st anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  CWA sets regulations on pollutants allowed into our national waterways along with regulating water quality standards.  We are grateful for protection at a national level, however, there are also things we can do locally to ensure healthy waterways.


The “Love Your Lakes, Don’t Leaf Them” campaign is spreading the word about leaf management.  This is an especially important topic during the Fall season when the leaves are starting to change color and fall from the trees.  The goal is to keep leaves out of the streets, which drain into our lakes and streams.  Because once the leaves are in our waterways they break down into excess nutrients and can create unhealthy algae blooms.

Here are a few tips from to help keep leaves out of the streets:
*Instead of creating piles along the road for collection, compost your leaves.  They will create a nutrient rich mulch for your yard next year.
*Chop the leaves up as you mow your lawn, it will provide a natural fertilizer.
*Place leaves on top of your flower and garden beds to insulate them during the cold winter months.

For more helpful tips, locations to pick up yard signs, information about local municipality collections go to Love Your Lakes or check out this handy myfairlakes brochure and help spread the word on how to Love Our Lakes.

October 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm 1 comment

It’s Raining Barrels in Madison.

This summer I bought two rain barrels and now my neighbors love me. On our narrow city lots, rain barrels meant a lot less water going from my roof onto their home’s foundation. Sustain Dane has their Barrel-palooza this Saturday (November 7) from 9am to 2pm on the Isthmus. Go! Buy! Conserve!

Even though I’m a pretty “green” kinda person, my time with EnAct has inspired me to take lots of different actions to make my life more sustainable. Some of them were easy, like committing to going to the Dane County Farmers’ Market every week. (I do love my fruits and veggies.) Walking more and driving less was also an easy step, because I live in Madison’s highly walkable neighborhood of Williamson-Marquette with easy access to the Willy Street Co-Op and lots of other stores and restaurants.

But buying a rain barrel was a big step. The cost isn’t huge, though we did have to budget for it. And we’re not really handy, so I was a little worried about how to install them.

Sustain Dane offered special free delivery for a few weeks, and that was enough motivation for me to commit. After some consideration, we decided on an oak rain barrel for the front of the house and a plastic rain barrel in back. As we were putting them up, the neighbor who had flooding problems came out of her house to say thanks, which made me feel really good. And my small garden appreciated the extra water as well.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out to Sustain Dane’s End of Season Barrel-palooza, this Saturday (November 7) from 9am to 2pm. It takes place out of the freight dock at their warehouse, 303 South Paterson, Madison. They’ll have scratch and dent barrels, plus Dual Flush toilet conversion kit for DIY installation- an easy project that will supercharge your water conservation efforts. It’s first-come, first-served, and they can take checks, Visa/MC, and of course cash.

For me, the next step is planning a rain garden around the base of my rain barrels!

Be green. Have fun.

November 3, 2009 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

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