Cutting back on flow of water in the home

Fourteen states have water-saving laws, and other areas are considering ways to conserve. Some of the regulations involve agriculture and industry, in which about three-fourths of all water is used. But many also require households to cut down on water use.

Because of the new standards, most major plumbing and fixture manufacturers in the United States have redesigned many of their lines to conform.

In general, new toilets must be produced to use only 31/2 gallons of water per flush (older units use about twice this amount). Faucets and shower heads must have a flow rate of not more than 21/2 gallons a minute. (This is about half the rate of older fixtures.)

Major exponents of water-saving techniques are local water-and-power companies and government agencies.

Many provide information and inspections to help homeowners reduce water waste. Some offer devices - such as new shower heads and spring-loaded faucets that turn off automatically - at reduced costs.

Kits, too, are available with parts that can be installed by homeowners - plastic bags filled with water (placed inside the toilet tank) to reduce the amount of flushing water, as well as flow restrictors for faucets. Experts say of the total amount of water used in the average home, toilet flushing comprises 42 percent, bathing 32 percent, and miscellaneous use 26 percent.

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