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Is Your District Water Bill Higher Than Usual?

Is Your District Water Bill Higher Than Usual?

Each year in the early spring, the District hears from residents who are surprised by unexpectedly high-water bills. We find that many instances of high-water use originate with leaks, often in landscape irrigation systems. Generally, homeowners are responsible for paying for all the water that flows through their water meter, regardless of whether it’s due to a leak or to high usage, so it pays to spend some time tracking down springtime leaks.

Checking for Outdoor Leaks

Here in Meridian Ranch, mid- to late May is the best time to turn on your irrigation system to avoid a late freeze. If you have an in-ground irrigation system, you should check it each spring to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter. An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste 6,300 gallons of water per month! If you need help, hire a plumber or an irrigation professional to inspect it for you.

Once your irrigation system is up and running, you’ll want to maximize its efficiency. Remember to adjust your landscape irrigation timers for optimal performance and water conservation. Colorado Springs Utilities’ “Cycle and Soak” flyer is on our website and is available at the Recreation Center and Administration Office. It’s one of the best strategies for healthy plants and lawns, and affordable water bills during the growing season.

Leaks can occur at irrigation valves, connection points, joints, sprinkler heads, or drip irrigation lines. Walk through the landscape while the system is running and look for water pooling on the surface or water spraying where it shouldn’t.

You may have broken or missing sprinklers and drippers. Pedestrians or machinery can damage irrigation components in high-traffic areas, and damaged sprinklers can cause water to go where it shouldn’t. Run a test of the system and look for missing sprinklers, those that do not pop up fully, drip lines that have been cut or moved out of place, or small geysers.

Are your sprinklers aimed correctly? Sprinklers pointed toward walls and hardscapes miss the landscape and wastewater. Look for sprinklers that overspray or spray water onto areas outside the landscape. In most cases, you can turn the nozzle to face the correct direction.

High water pressure can cause misting that is easily blown away by our Falcon winds and not used by the landscape. Look for a fine mist coming from sprinklers. If your water pressure is too high, you can install WaterSense labeled spray sprinkler bodies with integral pressure regulation.

Checking for Indoor Leaks

If your irrigation system isn’t leaking, high water bills may be due to an indoor leak instead. An average household's leaks can account for 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, and 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10% on their water bills.

To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you're wasting water, and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks:

  • Look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 5,000 gallons per month, there are likely to be serious leaks.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.

Water is a precious resource here in the high Colorado desert – fixing and preventing leaks protects that resource AND your bank account!

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