What You Can Do

Conserving and protecting our water supply is a job for everyone. It’s cost-effective and simple to do. There are hundreds of ways to conserve water – everything from turning off the faucet while you brush to using low flow appliances.

Did you know that about one-third of Howard County government’s electric bill is dedicated to water treatment? Another great reason to use less water at home.

Water Saving Tips – Indoors

When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill a small amount of water in the sink for washing. Rinse over the wash water making sure to turn the faucet on low only when rinsing several dishes at once. This will add more water to the soapy wash water by the time you get to washing large dishes like pots and pans. Or, if you have a second sink, fill it partially with rinse water.

Grease and fats should be wiped from dishes/pans/pots with a paper towel before washing so that it doesn’t clog drains.

Avoid using kitchen sink garbage disposal units. In-sink disposals require a lot of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the amount of water treatment required at the treatment plant. Compost instead!

It is generally more efficient to wash dishes in a fully loaded dishwasher than by hand.

Run your clothes washer and dish washer only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

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.

Water Saving Tips – Outdoors

If you need to water your lawn (e.g. when it’s newly planted), adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Remember, during the peak of summer, grass becomes dormant and browns slightly, it does not die – this is a natural occurrence and continual watering is not necessary.

Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.

Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture so you can water less frequently.

Use a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect water from your downspouts during a rain storm so that you can use that water instead of treated water. Connecting your rain barrel to a soaker hose to is also a good idea. It allows for slow irrigation of plants or a newly planted lawn. Visit the Rain Garden and Rain Barrel page for info on how to get a free barrel from the County.

Keep your pool water level low to minimize splashing. Use a cover to slow evaporation (keeps water cleaner, too).


You can slow down the flow of stormwater from your property by installing a rain garden or rain barrel. Visit the Rain Garden and Rain Barrel page for info including incentive for rain gardens and how to get a free barrel from the County.

Howard County’s storm drain stenciling program allows stenciling of the message “Only Rain Down the Drain” and then “Drains to Patuxent River” or “Drains to Patapsco River” depending on which watershed you are in. Visit the stencil page on CleanWaterHoward.com to learn more.



Several local non-profit organizations focus on watershed issues. Visit the Local Environmental Groups page on this website to get started.

Howard County funds grants to local non-profit groups to promote outreach and restoration in our watersheds. Apply for a grant to help your community protect water resources through the Chesapeake Bay Trust.