Managing our precious water resources is one of the ten guiding principles of Sterling Ranch. We know that our semi-arid climate, coupled with a rapidly growing population, makes it more important than ever to be careful stewards of this most basic and critical natural resource.
If you’re part of the Sterling Ranch community, you’re already equipped with some tools to make it easier to monitor your water usage. Every home in this community comes with a dual-meter system that tracks how much water your household is using both inside the home and outside. For residents, that means that your water rates for indoor and outdoor water usage are different because we are able to recapture that water, treat it, and trade it for fresh water – meaning water saved outside the house saves even more money. The community landscaping was planned and implemented in partnership with the Denver Botanical Gardens to ensure native, hardy plants that require minimal water are used throughout our grounds. We also collect rainwater so that we can capture water from rooftops and other hard surfaces and put it to good use in community areas.
Here are a few more tips on ways you can cut back on your water usage. Not only will you save money on your water bill, you’ll also be helping preserve a much-needed resource so that other people living in the area have plenty of water as well.
- Weed your garden regularly. The flowers and produce in your garden require water to thrive, and weeds are unwanted competition that can siphon off that water. Pull them as soon as you see them sprout. Your garden and water bill will thank you.
- When you brush your teeth, don’t let the water run continuously. This common practice of keeping the water running when you brush your teeth wastes an enormous amount of fresh, potable water. Turn on the faucet when you need it; turn it off while you’re brushing.
- Try not to water your houseplants with fresh water from the tap. Instead, keep a bucket handy and fill it with leftover water from drinking glasses, water used for cooking (leftover from boiling pasta or steaming vegetables), and water you collect while you’re waiting for the tap to get hot. When it’s time to clean the fish tank, share the used water with houseplants. And if you have outdoor plants or a garden, use a planter box. We have found that they are more productive because they are warmer and save water. They also keep you from having to kneel down as far to weed, which is nice. A good planter box should be at least 24 inches high and have wire underneath to help keep wildlife out, and should be constructed from concrete or brick and watered using drip irrigation.
- Always close the tap tightly when using water in the bathroom or kitchen sink. Leaks and drips can waste an enormous amount of water over time. If you have young kids in your household, it’s especially important to check after them for any unwanted drips.
- Make sure your dishwasher is completely full before you run a cycle. While dishwashers save more water than washing dishes by hand, that’s only true if they are full. If you have just a few dirty dishes, consider washing them by hand (stopping the sink and filling it with some water) rather than running a cycle.
- Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor. Men, if you shave at the bathroom sink every day, you can save up to 300 gallons of water a month by making this simple change!
- Keep showers to less than 5 minutes. If you need to be in the shower for longer, turn off the water during times when you’re not actively using it (shaving, shampooing, etc.). As a general rule, take showers rather than baths.
- Defrost food in the refrigerator rather than using running water. Sometimes frozen food has thawing instructions to hold it under running water. Yes, you can defrost your food that way, but it’s a big waste of water! Instead, simply put it in the refrigerator the morning you intend to use it and will be ready by dinner time.
- Compost leftover food scraps rather than using the garbage disposal. Composting is a wonderful and natural way to reuse leftover bits of food. You’re also conserving water by tossing food scraps into a compost bin rather than putting them down the garbage disposal, which requires running water.
- Don’t water your lawn on windy days. You probably know that it’s best to water your lawn in the early morning or evening, but it’s also smart to avoid watering on windy days. Most of the water is blown away or quickly evaporates.
If you practice these tips they’ll soon become second nature, and you’ll also be teaching your kids or influencing your friends and neighbors in how to live with a water-wise mindset. Learn more about what Sterling Ranch is doing to promote smart stewardship here.