Frequently Asked Questions

We have tried to compile a variety or reliable sources to help address some frequently asked questions that relate to the water industry.

You may direct further questions to the general office at (254) 879-2258.

Leaks

How much water is wasted if I have a leak?


  • Leaks can account for 10 percent or more of the water bill.
  • A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons or more of water a day.
  • A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day.
From Texas Water Depelopment Board




How can I check for a silent toilet leak?


  1. Mix a few drops of food coloring or place a dye capsule or tablet into the water in the toilet tank.
  2. Do not flush the toilet.
  3. Wait for about 10 minutes.
  4. If the dye or food coloring appears in the toilet bowl, the toilet has a silent leak.
From Texas Water Development Board Note: We have free tablets available at the Water Treatment Plant




How can I check for invisible or unnoticed leaks in other places besides my toilet?


  1. Turn off all water outlets and water-using appliances.
  2. Read the dial on the water meter and record the reading.
  3. Recheck the meter 15 to 20 minutes later.
  4. If no water has been used and the reading has changed, a leak is occurring somewhere in the plumbing system.
From Texas Water Development Board




What are some common causes of toilet leaks?


  • Worn flappers
  • Improperly adjusted water levels
  • Worn valve seats
  • Leaking fill valves
From Texas Water Development Board





Water Usage

How much water is used in my kitchen?


About 8% of in-home water use takes place in the kitchen.




How much water is used by my washing machine?


About 14% of in-home water use is by the washing machine.




How much water is used in the bathroom?


About 75% of in-home water use takes place in the bathroom.





In-home Conservation

What can I do to conserve water in the kitchen and while doing laundry?


  • Purchase newer, water-saving models of washing machines and dishwashers. They should not be any more expensive than conventional models and they can reduce the water usage by 25-35%
  • Wash only full loads of clothes or dishes
From Texas Water Development Board




How can I change my bathroom habits to conserve water?


  • Take a shower insead of a bath
  • Install a low-flow showerhead -- it saves about one-half the amout of water currently being used. It's the single most effective conservation step that can be taken inside the home.
  • Don't over use water when brushing your teeth.
  • Consider installing a low-flow faucet aerator in your lavatory
From Texas Water Development Board




How much water does my toilet require for each flush?


  • Toilets prior to the 1980's
    • 5-7 gallons per flush
  • 1980's to early 1990's
    • 3.5 gallons per flush
  • 1992 in Texas (1994 nationally)
    • A law required that new toilets use 1.6 gallons or less of water per flush
From Home Water Works




I have an older toilet. Can I still conserve water?


In the older models, you can conserve water by installing a displacement device such as a toilet dam, plastic bottle, or bag.

  • Do not use a brick. It can crumble and damage the fixture.
These devices can save up to 20% in most fixtures but may not work as well in the 3.5 gallon models. Regardless of the toilet type, make sure you use it with the least amout of water possible. From Home Water Works




What are some other in-home conservation tips?


  • Insulate hot water pipes where possible. Pipe insulation is inexpensive and easy to install.
  • Be sure the water heater thermostat is not set too high. Setting higher than 125 °F wastes energy. However, if you have a dishwasher, 140 °F is required to clean dishes effectively.





Health, Smells, and Tastes

How does water affect our bodies?


  • Water makes up about 80% of our blood
  • Supports our cells
  • Aids digestion
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Transports wastes
  • Lubricates joints
  • and more
From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




Help! Why does my water stink and taste funny?


The three most common reasons for bad tasting or smelling water are:

  1. A funny taste can come from the chlorine that is added to the water to kill germs.
  2. A rotton-egg odor in some groundwater (wells) is caused by a harmless, smelly chemical, called hydrogen sulfide, dissolved in the water.
  3. As algae grows in surface water (lakes, reservoirs), they give off harmless, smelly chemicals that can cause unpleasant tastes in drinking water.
From Water Logic




Are these smells and tastes harmful to my health?


Generally, the chemicals that cause a bad taste or smell in drinking water will not make you sick. Unfortunately, none of the harmfull chemicals that might be found in drinking water can be seen, tasted, or smelled. However, if you think you might have a problem, please contact our lab technicians at (254) 879-BACT. From Opflow




Should I use bottled water instead of tap water?


Although common opinion may hold that bottled water is safer than tap water, this is a myth. Bottled water is not necessarily "safer" than tap water. Its quality depends on where it comes from and how it's produced. You shouldn't buy bottled water for health reasons if your drinking water meets all of the federal, state, or provincial drinking water standards. Bottled water costs about 1,000 times as much as municipal drinking water and the bottled water industry is less regulated than the municipal drinking water community. From Opflow





Hard and Soft Water

What's the deal? Hard Water vs Soft Water


"Hardness" in drinking water is caused by two harmless minerals -- calcium and magnesium. It is called hardness because if calcium and magnesium are present in your water, making lather or suds for washing is "hard" to do. Laundry washed in hard water may not seem as clean. Water with little calcium or magnesium is "soft" water. From Opflow




Should I install a water softener in my home?


First, find out how hard your water is by calling the Upper Leon Lab at (254) 879-BACT. If the hardness of your water is more than 125 mg/L (milligrams per liter, sometimes called 125 parts per million (ppm) or 7.5 grains per gallon), you might consider a softener. The higher the hardness number, the more a water softener should help. From Opflow




How do water softeners work?


Water softeners replace harmless hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) with sodium. Because sodium is believed to cause high blood pressure in some people, you might want to connect the softener to the hot-water line only. This will prevent softener sodium from entering your drinking or cooking water. From Opflow





Environment

What percent of the earth's surface is water?


More than 70% of the world is covered with water, but only 1% of this supply can be used for drinking. The rest is salty or trapped as polar ice. From AWWA