By Joel Hall
While minor in appearance, a leaky faucet can waste more than 2,500 gallons of water a year, according to local water authority officials. To show residents how simple leak fixes can conserve water and keep their water bills low, the Clayton County Water Authority is joining water authorities across the country in celebrating national "Fix A Leak Week."
Clayton County Water Authority Public Information Officer Suzanne Brown said this is the second year the water authority has participated in the national education effort, encouraging residents to check for leaks in their homes and businesses. She said things such as worn-out washers and stoppers in sinks and toilets can quickly cause water bills to skyrocket.
"We have a lot of customers who will have a high-bill complaint, because their water bill has jumped unexpectedly," Brown said. "Typically, when that happens, it is because they have a leak somewhere in their home. Most of the time, that is a leaky toilet. A toilet that constantly runs, which is the sign of a worn-out flapper, can waste up to 200 gallons [of water] a day. Leaky faucets can waste up to seven gallons a day."
Brown said the water authority encourages people to test their toilets for leaks at least once a quarter, as leaky toilets are often the biggest culprits of high water bills. She said a leaky toilet can be checked by placing food coloring, dye tablets, or some kind of bright-colored liquid into the tank of the toilet.
"Even if they don't have the tablets, they can get a dark-colored cola or Kool-Aid," Brown said. "You put that in the tank and don't flush the toilet for about 15 minutes. If you have a leaky toilet, that color is going to seep into your toilet bowl."
Brown said another way to check for leaks is to turn off all of the appliances that use water and check the water meter outside. If the meter continues to move, it is a good sign of a possible leak, she said.
Clayton County Water Authority Water Production Manager Guy Pihera said many of the working parts in sinks and toilets are made of rubber, which dries out and cracks over time. He said washers and flappers are inexpensive and easy to replace, and go a long way toward sustaining the county's infrastructure.
"Flappers cost about $5," at most home-improvement stores, Pihera said. By repairing leaks, "people can reduce their use by not wasting water, [and] the infrastructure we have in place will last for a longer period of time. It helps with our goal of conserving water, so that the water authority will not have to produce more water for the customers to get the same benefit."
In addition to encouraging residents to fix their toilets, the water authority is offering a rebate to residents who replace their older toilets with newer, high-efficiency models. Pihera said older-model toilets can use three to five gallons per flush and that by contacting the water authority, residents may receive $50 for replacing them with 1.6-gallons-per-flush models and $100 for installing 1.3-gallons-per-flush models.
"Water is such a limited resource," said Brown. "We've had all the water we've had since the beginning of Earth, so it is not like there is new water. By educating customers about leaks inside their home and how easy it is to check for them and repair them, it helps save water and it also saves them money."
For more water-saving tips, and information on the rebate program, visit www.ccwa.us.