Water FAQs

The letters FAQs on water

How can I tell if I have leaks in my home plumbing system?

  • 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.
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl before you flush, you have a leak.

Lady watching plumber trying to fix leaky sink

How concerned should I be about a leaky toilet?
A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day. A common reason toilets leak is that the toilet flapper has become worn and no longer seals closed once the toilet has filled.

Which uses more water, a bath or a shower?
A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower under a low-flow shower head uses 10 to 25 gallons. Don’t run water down the drain while it heats up.

What indoor home activity uses the most water?
Inside the home, water use is evenly distributed among appliances, but nearly 30% is flushed down the toilet. A typical household of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. Clothes washing accounts for 26%, followed by showers at 20% and faucets (washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.) is at 19%.

How can I conserve water with my swimming pool?
If you have a pool, keep the water level low to minimize splashing, and use a cover to slow evaporation. An average-sized pool can lose about 1,000 gallons of water per month if left uncovered.

What is drip irrigation?
Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation, is an irrigation method, which saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters.

How is water recycled/reclaimed?
Water utilities use a variety of well-tested and reliable treatment processes to recycle/reclaim water. Utilities generally describe the various stages of treatment rather than the technologies utilized when referring to water quality, as there are multiple treatment techniques for achieving essentially the same result.

Generally speaking, the four core stages of treatment are primary treatment, secondary treatment, tertiary or advanced treatment, and disinfection. The number of treatment steps will vary based on how the water will be used. Most recycled water, however, will undergo some form of disinfection.

Is recycled/reclaimed water safe?
Reclaimed water is highly engineered for safety and reliability so that the quality of reclaimed water is more predictable than many existing surface and groundwater sources. Reclaimed water is considered safe when appropriately used.

Although reclaimed water is of very high quality, it is not used directly for drinking water in the United States. Reclaimed water planned for use in recharging our aquifers or augmenting our surface water receives adequate and reliable treatment before mixing with naturally occurring water and undergoing natural restoration processes. Some of this water eventually becomes part of our drinking water supplies.

Are reclaimed water and potable water systems interconnected?
Never! To avoid contamination of potable water, Texas law strictly prohibits interconnection between reclaimed water and potable water systems relating to general requirements for the production, conveyance, and use of reclaimed water. All exposed reclaimed water piping, hose bibs, and faucets are required to be painted purple, have clearly marked signs in English and Spanish, and where possible have horizontal separation of at least nine feet from any potable water piping.

What can consumers do?
As new supplies of fresh water become scarcer and more expensive to develop, the value of water reuse programs continues to grow. Once the initial costs for capital facilities and distribution systems are met, the long-term results include substantial environmental and financial savings. Consumers can support water reuse programs in their communities when appropriate and contact their local wastewater treatment facilities for more information.

Is it safe for children to play on grass irrigated by recycled water?
Reclaimed water is generally not treated to drinking water standards established by the USEPA. However, reclaimed water does undergo several levels of treatment and is required to meet the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality water quality standards. Adverse health effects are rare from direct external contact with the water, but are possible if large quantities of the water are ingested over an extended period of time.

Children playing in the sprinkler