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Love your water: Use it wisely

Here in the Rogue Valley, we are fortunate enough to have access to reliable, high-quality drinking water — just by turning on the tap. We wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush our teeth, grab a cup of coffee, and head out for the day.

While having water readily available at the tap may make it seem like there is an abundance of water, the reality is that water supplies are becoming more stressed each year. With drought occurring more frequently in Southern Oregon, it is even more essential for our communities to work together to find ways to use the water we have as efficiently as possible.

The Medford Water Commission (MWC) prioritizes the responsible use of water and promotes water efficiency practices throughout our community. Making conservation a part of your daily life can help us to preserve this essential resource.

In our area, water use triples during the summer months largely due to the increase in lawn and landscape watering. We encourage our customers to love the water we have and use it wisely, especially in the landscape this summer, and offer several programs, rebates and resources to the community to assist in maximizing water use and minimizing water waste.

For ways to reduce your water usage inside and outside, start with the following tips:

Stop leaks. Check all water-using appliances, equipment and other devices for leaks. Running toilets, steady faucet drips, home water treatment units and outdoor sprinkler systems are common sources of leaks.

Provide only the water plants need. Automatic landscape irrigation systems are a home’s biggest water user. To make sure you’re not overwatering, adjust your irrigation controller at least once a month to account for changes in the weather. Better yet, install a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller, which uses local weather and landscape conditions to water only when plants need it. Install a rain shutoff device, soil moisture sensor or humidity sensor to further control irrigation. Learn about our Smart Irrigation Controller Rebate Program at medfordwater.org.

Plant the right plants. Whether you are installing a new landscape or changing the existing one, select plants that are appropriate for your climate. Consider landscaping techniques designed to create a visually attractive landscape by using low-water and drought-resistant grass, plants, shrubs and trees. Our Water Wise Gardening website (medford.watersmartgardening.com) highlights water-wise gardening concepts tailored to the climate of the Rogue Valley, and includes hundreds of diverse photos providing a wide variety of attractive examples.

Schedule a free sprinkler survey. MWC offers free sprinkler system evaluations to help you use water efficiently in the landscape. Go to medfordwater.org or call 541-774-2435 to learn more.

Replace old toilets. The major water use inside the home is toilet flushing. If your home was built before 1992 and you haven’t replaced your toilets recently, you could benefit from installing a WaterSense labeled model that uses 1.28 gallons or less per flush. A family of four can save 16,000 gallons of water per year by making this change. Learn about our Toilet Rebate Program at medfordwater.org.

Install WaterSense labeled faucet aerators and showerheads. WaterSense labeled products use at least 20% less water than standard models, while providing equal or superior performance.

Join us in recognizing April as National Water Conservation Month. Let’s show the other cities around the nation how Medford takes care of our planet! It’s free, and only takes a minute. Plan to make the pledge through April 30 at mywaterpledge.com.

A message from Medford Mayor Randy Sparacino: “As a leader committed to efficient use of natural resources, I support the mission of the Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, a nonprofit national community service program, and in so doing renew my commitment to sustainability for my city and for future generations.”

For more information on how you can conserve water this summer, please browse our website (medfordwater.org) or call 541-774-2435.

Julie Smitherman is the Medford Water Commission’s water resources coordinator.