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Effort targets water waste
This is week to fix a leak
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Forsyth County News


Here are some tips for checking water leaks:

• Check faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replace if needed.

• A running toilet can often be fixed by replacing the rubber flapper, which can save up to 200 gallons of water per day.

• Keep garden hoses from leaking by ensuring a tight connection to the spigot using a wrench and pipe tape.

• Check lawn irrigation systems in the spring to ensure pipes have not burst by freezing.

The average American household can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water a year from leaks.

That's enough to fill up a backyard swimming pool, said Tim Perkins, Forsyth County's director of water and sewer.

To raise awareness about simple maintenance for water conservation, the county is participating for the first time in the national Fix a Leak Week program.

Sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program, the March 15-21 campaign serves as an annual reminder to check for home water leaks.

"Forsyth County is participating in Fix a Leak Week to help our residents save money on their utility bills and to help save water in our community," Perkins said.

The county is urging residents to check all water outlets in their homes, from hoses to faucets and showerheads.

County data from new home meters that measure continuous flow show that about 10 percent of houses could have small leaks, Perkins said.

Officials hope to eventually use these meters, installed at some homes in the last couple years, to notify homeowners of potential leaks.

Any water conservation efforts by residents can help, Perkins said.

"Our supply of water is uncertain," he said. "But the main thing is, if we can reduce the amount of water our customers need, we can put off or postpone large capital improvement projects.

"Conserving water, besides just being the right thing to do, is cheaper."

Costs of having to build new water plants are often reflected in customer rates, he said.

In the grand scheme, fixing one leak may not seem to do much "but they do add up," Perkins said.

Jeff Groover, owner of Spartan Plumbing in Cumming, said his service repairs leaks nearly every day.

"The way most people find [leaks] is when their bill is high," Groover said.

One of the most common leaks, a running toilet, can use up a lot of water without detection, he said.

Many problems with leaks can be fixed by replacing parts. More water can be conserved by selecting newer products that are built to save water.

Pipes are going to wear out eventually, Groover said, so homeowners should routinely inspect their appliances.

Not much can be done to prevent leaks. But finding stains on copper pipes or green coloring could indicate a leak is forming, said Michael Davis, owner of Davis Plumbing & Pump Services in Cumming.

Letting a leak go undetected could also subject a home to water damage, he said.

"We get a lot of calls where the water is leaking out in the yard," he said. "It runs up that water bill."