Learn to reduce water use

Placer County Water Agency offers free house calls to help find leaks, waste
By: Lauren Weber The Press-Tribune
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With so many headlines in the news lately about conserving water, learning to become more water efficient has never been so important. And with a quick call to the Placer County Water Agency to set up a free Water Wise House Call, area residents can have everything they need to get started reducing their water use. A Water Wise House Call includes trying to determine the reasons for high water bills. The specialists will give suggestions, find leaks and provide information to homeowners at no cost. In the case of one Roseville family, they were tired of paying high water bills and frustrated at the appearance of their lawn that was turning brown. “We weren’t sure what to do,” said Josie Fatlowitz of Roseville. The Fatlowitzs had moved into a house on a two-acre lot and found their water bill to be continually increasing, especially during the summer months. “We use so much water and everything is dead,” Fatlowitz said. Josie and her husband Bill were looking for a solution and came across the PCWA Water Wise House Calls. During a house call Monday, one of the four certified workers made a visit to the Fatlowitz home and examined water fixtures in toilets, sinks and showers, sprinkler systems and the water meter. “This is probably the most important thing,” Bret Turner, PCWA water efficiency specialist, said as he looked at the Fatlowitz’s water meter, which aids in leak detection and water use. Entering the house, Turner checked the toilet for leaks using blue dye, which gets placed in the toilet base. If the water in the toilet bowl turns blue, the flapper isn’t sealing correctly and water is being wasted, Turner said. For people looking to reduce water use the PCWA offers incentives for ultra low-flush toilets through their toilet rebate program for each toilet replaced. Rebate programs have been in effect for the last five years and since that time PCWA has issued approximately 1,100 toilet rebates and 800 rebates for high-efficiency washing machines, said Harley Lukenbill, deputy director of customer services for PCWA. Like the rebates, the house calls have been popular as well. Last year PCWA tended to 733 residential Water Wise House Calls, Lukenbill said. “Everyone will benefit from this program,” Turner said. “Preventive maintenance can be the best protection.” Lukenbill said that most water waste is from people who don’t know how to use their electronic irrigation systems and each water efficiency specialist with PCWA is trained to teach residents. The house calls are made to residences, apartments, businesses and mobile homes and are free of charge. The Fatlowitz’s Water Wise House Call was one of nine that were being conducted Monday. “It’s a great benefit to have this service,” Bill Fatlowitz said. “We don’t want to waste water. We want to do the best we can.” Because the front lawn of the Fatlowitz’s house was full of patches of green and brown grass, Turner suggested some of the yard be converted to xeriscape, or drought-tolerant plants. In addition to checking for leaks and evaluating the irrigation system’s efficiency, PCWA-certified personnel can provide an irrigation watering schedule to maximize results with the least amount of water use. At the conclusion of each house call, residents receive a bag full of water-related items such as a hose nozzle, moisture meter, packets on tips to saving water, brochures on designing a water-wise backyard with lists of native plants and an indoor water conservation kit with leak detection tablets. To schedule a Water Wise House Call, contact PCWA at (530) 823-4850 or go to