Water Efficiency and Conservation Tips

Water Conservation Tips

Document Title File Description
Drought Survival Guides Drought guides from the Contra Costa Water District for
lawns, mulch, and trees.
Water Meter Learn how to read your water meter.
Irrigation Controller Learn how to program your irrigation controller.


Water Saving Ideas for Outdoor Areas

  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks, driveways and patios.
  • Do not let the water run while washing your car. Install an adjustable spray nozzle on your hose. Clean your car using a bucket and sponge, then spray the car down to rinse it.
  • A better alternative to washing your car yourself is to take it to a commercial car wash that recycles its water. A commercial car wash can use water more efficiently, and you will be protecting San Francisco Bay from the dirty, soapy water that would have gone down the storm drain in your street and straight into the Bay.
  • Instead of running sprinklers to cool off during the summer, go to the local pool.
  • Using a pool cover can save up to 90% of water lost to evaporation.  Check your pool for leaks.  
  • Look for leaks or geysers in the campus sprinkler system. If you notice a leak in student campus housing, contact your Facilities Supervisor. If you notice a leak near a campus building or open space area on campus please call Maintenance Customer Service at 723-2281 to report it.

Water Saving Ideas for the Lawn and Garden

  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. To check, step on the grass. If it springs back up after you move, it does not need water. If it stays flat, then its time to water.
  • Implement a cycle and soak approach for watering your lawn to prevent runoff while giving your lawn a deep watering.  Schedule short runtimes followed by rest periods where the water can soak in, if needed do a second short watering.  
  • Set your irrigation system to run in the early morning or late evening, when the water is less likely to be lost due to evaporation or wind.
  • Get rid of weeds, which compete with your ornamental plants for water.
  • Do not water the gutter, sidewalks and driveways. Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not paved areas.
  • Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. There are many beautiful trees and plants that thrive with less water. For a listing of drought-resistant trees and plants that do well in the Bay area go to, water wise plant list, the Santa Clara Valley Water District's Web Site.  For drought tolerant gardening ideas visit the SCVWD's photo gallery or San Jose Water Company's Garden Tour.
  • Put down a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture and discourage weed growth. For an extensive landscape Water Wise guide visit the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
  • Check your landscaping often for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets, sprinklers and couplings. Small leaks can add up to large water loss.
  • Visit Stanford Utilities WaterWise Demonstration Garden to view local examples of native and drought resistant landscaping options.

Water Saving Ideas for the Bathroom

  • Do not use toilets as a trash can. Each time you flush trash down the toilet you waste up to seven gallons of water.
  • Take shorter showers. Long, hot showers use between five and ten gallons of water every minute.
  • Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. You can pick up inexpensive, easy to install devices from your local hardware or plumbing store. Stanford residents can pick up a free showerhead - contact Erica Kudyba.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Run as much as you need, then turn off the tap until you need some more.
  • Rinse your razor in the sink. Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of warm water. You can rinse your blade just as easily as with running water and a lot less wastefully.
  • Check your toilets for leaks. Drop a little food coloring or leak tablet into your toilet tank. Wait a few minutes. If color shows up in your bowl, you have a leak. A leaking toilet wastes up to 60 gallons of water per day. To learn more about toilet repairs head to the East Bay MUD water saving tips where you can find in-depth toilet repair instructions.
  • Install a low flow toilet. New toilet models use 1.28 gallons per flush, considerably less then older models which use up to 6 gallons per flush. An in-depth look at the different low flow models is available for review at MAP Test.
  • Look for leaks in faucets, pipes, toilets. If you discover a leak in student campus housing, contact your Facilities Supervisor. If you notice a leak in a building or area on campus please call Work Support at 723-2281 to report it.

Water Saving Ideas for the Kitchen and Laundry

  • When using your dishwasher, run only full loads. Learn more about water and energy efficient dishwashers at the EPA's Energy Star or Watersense websites.
  • If washing by hand, use a sink full of water instead of continuously running the faucet.
  • Collect clean water from your kitchen faucet by keeping a small bucket or bowl in/near the sink. Use the collected water on your houseplants or outdoor container plants.
  • Look for new water efficient washing machines at the EPA Energy Star website.
  • Store a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for drinking. You won't have to let your faucet run to get a cold glass of water!
  • Wash only full loads of laundry or adjust the setting on the machine for small, medium and large laundry loads.