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Conservation Tips

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When it comes to saving water, even small behaviors can make a big impact. Click the categories below to find tips for conserving water:

Be a Leak Detective

Dripping faucet

Keep an eye out for leaks in your residence and in campus facilities, both indoors and outdoors. Even small leaks add up. Thank you for preventing water waste!

  • Leaks in campus buildings or outdoor areas should be reported by calling Maintenance Customer Service at 650-723-2281
  • Students can report leaks inside their dorms using R&DE's Fix-It Request Form
  • Single family home residents can sign up for leak alerts through the WaterSmart Portal

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Myoporum groundcover at the Water-wise Garden


On average, 50% of single-family home water use is outdoors.

Lawn and Garden

General Gardening Tips

Water-wise Garden opening day


  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. To check, step on the grass. If it springs back up after you move, it does not need water. If it stays flat, then it's time to water.
  • Use household graywater for outdoor irrigation. Graywater is water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks, and clothes washing machines and it can be used to irrigate outdoor landscaping, saving higher-quality water for necessary uses. Learn more
  • Implement a cycle and soak approach for watering your lawn to prevent runoff while giving your lawn a deep watering. Schedule short run times followed by rest periods where the water can soak in. If needed, do a second short watering.
  • Leaking sprinkler head
    Set your irrigation system to run in the early morning or late evening, when the water is less likely to be lost due to evaporation or wind.
  • Do not water the gutter, sidewalks and driveways. Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas.
  • Schedule a Water-wise Outdoor Survey with Valley Water to get free professional advice on your irrigation system. Learn more
  • Inspect your landscaping often for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets, sprinklers and couplings. Report or fix leaks

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Other Outdoor Areas

  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks, driveways and patios.
  • Do not let the water run while washing your car. Install an adjustable spray nozzle on your hose. Clean your car using a bucket and sponge, then spray the car down to rinse it.
    • A better alternative to washing your car yourself is to take it to a commercial car wash that recycles its water. A commercial car wash can use water more efficiently, and you will be protecting San Francisco Bay from the dirty, soapy water that would have gone down the storm drain in your street and straight into the Bay.
  • Stanford swimming pool
    Visit the local pool instead of running sprinklers to cool off during the summer.
  • Using a pool cover can save up to 90% of water lost to evaporation. Check your pool for leaks.
  • Look for leaks or geysers in the campus sprinkler system and help report them

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Leak detective Mr. Godina fixing a toilet flapper


There are many opportunities to save water in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry.



  • High efficiency tank-style toilet
    Do not use toilets as a trash can. Each time you flush trash down the toilet you waste up to seven gallons of water. 
  • Check your toilets for leaks. Listen for water running or hissing when the toilet is not in use or drop a little food coloring or leak tablet into your toilet tank. Wait a few minutes. If color shows up in your bowl (without flushing the toilet), you have a leak. A leaking toilet can waste over 60 gallons of water per day.
  • Install a low flow toilet. WaterSense Labeled Toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush, considerably less then older models that use up to 6 gallons per flush. An in-depth look at the different low flow models is available at MAP Testing
  • Retrofit an existing toilet by installing an adjustable flapper, tank bag, and/or fill cycle diverter, or by converting it to dual flush

Shower and Faucet

  • Take shorter showers. Showers use between two and ten gallons of water every minute.
  • Water efficient faucet
    Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Run as much as you need, then turn off the tap until you need some more.
  • Rinse your razor in the sink. Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of warm water. You can rinse your blade just as easily as with running water and a lot less wastefully.
  • Keep an eye out for dripping faucets, showerheads, and pipes and report or fix leaks
  • Install water-saving shower heads or faucet aerators. You can pick up inexpensive, easy to install devices from your local hardware or plumbing store.
    • Find products on the WaterSense website
    • Stanford residents may qualify for free showerheads, aerators, and toilet flappers upon completion of Valley Water's Do-It-Yourself Indoor Survey, which helps you test for leaks and discover the flow rates of different fixtures. Find a digital version at the Valley Water website, or get a physical copy by emailing us at

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Kitchen and Laundry

Laundry machines
  • Run only full loads in your dishwasher and laundry machine. Many laundry machines also allow you to select small, medium, or large loads.
  • Find water and energy efficient dishwashers and washing machines on the Energy Star website
  • If washing dishes by hand, use a sink full of water instead of continuously running the faucet.
  • Collect clean water from your kitchen faucet (e.g. from rinsing veggies) by keeping a small bucket or bowl in/near the sink. Use the collected water on your houseplants or garden plants.
  • Store a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for drinking. You won't have to let your faucet run to get a cold glass of water!
  • Keep an eye out for water damage around appliances and report or fix leaks

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