Advanced – I’ve got 5 days (or more):
Replace your Toilet
If possible, replace your toilet with a modern low-flush model that can use as little as 1.6 gallons per flush. If you live in a home that was built after January 1, 1994 you probably already have a 1.6 gallon or less per flush toilet. Be sure to check for leaks – they can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day. One common way to check for leaks is to put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the coloring ends up in the bowl, you know you’ve got a leak and it’s time to consult a local plumber or hardware store on how to make the relatively easy repair.
Install a Cistern
Cisterns are like rain barrels on steroids. Typically underground, a cistern has a larger storage capacity than a rain barrel. They are designed to intercept and storm runoff from rooftops to allow for its reuse (e.g., irrigation or gray water systems). Cistern / Rain Barrel (PDF)
Install a Pervious Patio, Sidewalk or Driveway
Pervious pavement is a structural pavement consisting of a permeable surface underlain by a rock bed that allows water to soak into the ground slowly. It allows stormwater infiltration and underground storage to reduce runoff. Pervious pavement is well suited for parking lots, walking paths, sidewalks, and patios. Pervious Pavement with Infiltration (PDF)
Soak it Up!
Infiltration practices are natural or constructed areas that slow, filter and absorb stormwater. They also attract and provide habitat for butterflies and birds, and serve as attractive landscaping. Infiltration practices can include:
1. Vegetated Swale/Tree Trench – a shallow, linear bed typically composed of a stone trench that is planted with a variety of grasses, shrubs and/or trees designed to slow, filter and infiltrate stormwater. They are an excellent alternative to curbs along driveways or other areas on your property where water naturally flows. Vegetated Swale (PDF)
2. Rain Garden – a shallow landscaped area that requires removing some portion of the existing soil and replacing it with a sandy soil mix that can hold and filter several inches of water. In addition, rain gardens are planted with specially selected native plants that can hold up in wet conditions. Bioretention (Rain Garden) (PDF)
Interested in building your own rain garden ? See these resources for information on design, installation, and maintenance.
Build Your Own Rain Garden – Chesapeake Bay Foundation;
Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington State.
3. Dry Wells – small, excavated pits typically about 4-6’ deep, filled with stone or gravel that temporarily store stormwater runoff until it infiltrates into the surrounding soil. A downspout can connect directly to a dry well. Infiltration Practices (PDF)
Install a Green Roof
Green roofs are a way to transform a conventional flat roof – typically black – into a green “carpet” that effectively manages rainwater by retaining and filtering water through plants and soils. In addition to managing rainwater, green roofs provide an additional layer of insulation to a building thereby reducing heating and cooling costs, can double the life of a roof, improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect and can provide garden areas and attractive views. Vegetated Roof (PDF)