vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Water Conservation Tips

Recent rain has been a godsend for Stafford. Let’s hope it continues so we don’t have a repeat of the bone-dry June we just had. But a few storms does not a reservoir fill, and county officials want to make sure county residents are doing all they can to conserve water. As Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer said in a press release, water conservation is a good practice every day of the year. It’s particularly good right now, as daily water usage was up about 150% over the annual daily average last week.

Here’s what the county recommends:


  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. A good way to see if your lawn needs water is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water.
  • Deep soak your lawn. When you do water, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and encourages shallow root systems.
  • Water during the early evening or early morning hours.
  • Don’t water the gutter or sidewalks.
  • Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants.
  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks.
  • Don’t run the hose while washing your car.
  • Tell your children not to play with the hose and sprinklers.
  • Check for leaks in pipes, hoses and faucets.

Kitchen and Laundry

  • Use your automatic dishwasher only for full loads.
  • Use your washing machine only for full loads.
  • Don’t leave the water running for rinsing dishes if you wash by hand.
  • Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables.
  • Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator.
  • Check faucets and pipes for leaks.


  • Check your toilets for leaks.
  • Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket.
  • Take shorter showers and baths.
  • Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors.
  • Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush.
  • Rinse your razor in the sink.
  • Check faucets and pipes for leaks.

Of course, the sort of ironic thing about all this is that the county recently did away with its conservation rate because it was financially onerous for new homeowners (and home builders) who have to establish lawns per county code.

But according to Harry Critzer, director of utilities, the conservation rate worked. It sets a very high price per gallon at a very high usage level to discourage extreme water usage. The average Stafford house uses 5,000 gallons per month. The conservation rate kicked in at 26,000 gallons. Nothing encourages conservation like a financial penalty, right?

So what do you think? Should the cost of irrigation to establish a lawn just be a cost associated with building a home? Is the very concept of a conservation rate unnecessary? Will the need for a conservation rate disappear once the new Rocky Pen Run reservoir opens?