Water Conservation in Montclair

Many people don't realize how much money they can save by taking simple steps to conserve water, and the cumulative effects such small changes can have on water resources and environmental quality.

Montclair’s Environmental Affairs office reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and various associations representing this country’s drinking water and wastewater systems have recently estimated the coming costs of national investment in all of the pipes, treatment plants, storage facilities, and other water infrastructure that will be necessary to ensure a secure, sanitary, and safe supply of water into the future.

They estimate that average annual investment over the period from now to 2025 would be around $30 billion to ensure a sustainable water supply and treatment system.

Local revenues provide the large majority of funding for water services; one way to pay for increased costs of investment, operations, security and maintenance is to increase local fees and rates. Currently, however, household water bills in the United States are actually lower than those in most other industrialized countries, relative to per capita income, according to the CBO.

In fact, Montclair residents’ water bills are reasonable compared to many other communities in other parts of the country. According to the EPA, a typical American family of four spends about $820 on water supply fees and sewer charges per year, and an additional $230 on heating the water. In many communities, water and sewer costs can be twice that amount or higher.

Conserving water doesn’t mean doing without. It means saving money and energy as well as water - life’s most essential tangible resource - without hardship or any reduced quality of life.

Even in areas where water seems abundant, water conservation is important. Although it might seem hard to see the connection, we can help improve water quality just by conserving at home. In addition to saving money on our utility bills, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby streams and rivers throughout our watershed.

Fixing household leaks, for example, can result in reduced water and energy bills as well as a large decrease in wasted water. Nationally, an average of 14 percent of the water we buy is lost through leaks without our ever using it - that's like paying a 14 percent sales tax on something you don't even get to use.

The American Water Works Association points out that water consumers play a large role in ensuring a sustainable water supply. Daily indoor per capita water use in the typical American single family home is around 70 gallons. Households can reduce this water use by about 35 percent to 45 gallons per day by employing conservation measures.

It is worth noting that 70 gallons of water used per day by each and every one of us is an incredibly high number when one third of the world's population - billions of people - faces chronic water shortages. Even affluent European nations average only about 40 gallons per person daily, while African nations average only about 5 gallons per day. Wasting water is simply unethical.

What can I do to conserve water?

Montclair residents have many ways to save water, both indoors and out. Following are some simple tips that we can all follow at home and in the yard to save water, money, and energy.


1. Check for hidden water leaks

Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak. Also, by reading your water meter at the same time of day for a week and logging the results, you can determine your actual daily water usage. This offers a helpful baseline for comparison when implementing water conservation measures.

2. Check your toilets for leaks

Did you know that a leaky toilet can waste 20,000 gallons of water per year? Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

3. Don't use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket

Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted. You also add an unnecessary load on the sewage treatment system. Put trash into a wastebasket and leave the toilet for its intended use.

4. Put plastic bottles in your toilet tank

To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Then, fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day. Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly.

For new installations, consider buying "low flush" toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.

5. Insulate your water pipes

It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water, and energy, as it heats up.

6. Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators

Your local hardware or plumbing supply store has inexpensive water-saving shower heads or restrictors that are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off.
Also, all household faucets should be fit with aerators. This single best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!

7. Take shorter showers

One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower while soaping up, and then turn it back on to rinse. A 4-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

8. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush

There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

9. Rinse your razor in the sink

Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.

10. Check faucets and pipes for leaks

A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.

11. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads

Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer. And always choose appliances with the ENERGY STAR logo.

12. Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units

In sink 'garburators' require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a sewage system. Start a simple home compost pile in your backyard as an alternate method of disposing food waste. Montclair provides clear and easy composting instructions, and sells home compost bins at cost to residents. Call the Office of Environmental Affairs at (973) 509-5721.

13. When washing dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing

If you have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a pan of hot water.

14. Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables

Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water.

15. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge

Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful.


Many people don’t realize that often over half of a suburban home’s water use is outdoors. Follow these tips in the yard and garden...

16. Water your lawn only when it needs it

A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Let the grass grow taller (to 3") before mowing to promote water retention in the soil, and then leave the grass clippings on the lawn as added moisture and nitrogen.

17. Deep-soak your lawn

Water the lawn long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A daily light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn - when it's full, you've watered about the right amount, and that’s the length of time you need to water.

18. Water during the cool parts of the day; don’t water your lawn in the middle of the day or when it's windy

Early morning is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Watering early in the day is also the best defense against slugs and other garden pests. Watering when it's windy can blow sprinklers off target and speed evaporation.

19. Don't water your driveway, sidewalks, or street

Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas. And again, avoid watering when it is windy.

20. Use efficient watering systems for shrubs, flower beds and lawns

You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns with strategic placement of soaker hoses, rain barrel catchment systems and simple drip-irrigation systems.

21. Plant drought-resistant shrubs and plants

Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Consider trying xeriscaping, or water-wise gardening, for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard.

22. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants

Mulch slows the evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth.

23. Don't run the hose while washing your car

Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing.

24. Use a broom, not a hose or noisy leaf-blowers, to clean driveways and sidewalks

25. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings

Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they're not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.