Water conservation expert says this is how to save water around your home

As calls for water conservation rise amid California's severe drought, KTVU is taking a look at the drought's impact on the Bay Area and exploring how to best conserve water.

KTVU's Chief Meteorologist Bill Martin spoke with Charles Bohlig, a Supervisor of Water Conservation at East Bay Municipal Utility District, about how to save on water around your home. 

How to check for toilet leaks

The toilet is the No. 1 leaking device in homes according to Bohlig, but there's an easy way to detect its leaks.

"The way to figure out the leak is common dye," Martin said.

After purchasing detection dye tablets, pull the lid off the toilet tank and drop a tablet inside.

"Wait about 15 minutes and if that blue shows up in your bowl, you've got a leak," Bohlig said.

The blue dye will reveal which valve has a leak. According to Martin, leaky toilet valves can waste more than hundreds of gallons a day. Over time, valves can become too brittle and experience leakage.

How to check for water heater leaks

Bohlig recommends checking your water heater for failing pressure relief valves.

"Go to your water heater, and then you check for the copper tubing on it. The copper tubing usually comes off the side," Bohlig said.

Then, Bohlig advised, put your hand on the tube lightly.

"If it's cool to the touch, there's no leak. However, if it's warm, then you need to follow where this tube goes," he said.

How to check for dishwasher leaks

Another big way to save water in the house is using your dishwasher.

"Always wash full loads, because the dishwasher uses the same amount of water whether there's one glass in there or if there's a setting for six in there," Bohlig said.

New dishwashers use about only four gallons of water per load, which Bohlig says wastes less water than washing dishes by hand.

"Save money by using the dishwasher," he said. "You're never going to match what a dishwasher can do."

Landscaping, irrigation tips during the drought

"[Watering] outside can be significant especially if you have a lot of grass," Bohlig said. "People could be putting five times as much on their landscaping alone just to keep it green."

Bohlig recommends landscaping with native plants, which saves water on a day-in and day-out basis.

"Native plants are really good because it prepares you for the next drought," Bohlig said.

Bohlig also offered his advice on proper tree irrigation.

"We ask customers to do a more cycle and a soak," Bohlig described. "Like a drip system, let it slowly percolate on in, but let it go deep into the soil. That will train the roots to go down, and that will keep the tree healthier during the drier weeks. It could take the majority of the summer to do it."

How to use flow meters

Martin highly recommends using metal devices called flow meters, calling them "one of the best things that you can have."

What does a flow meter do? Bohlig explained.

"It allows you to see if you got leaks if you’re irrigating something seven days a week," Bohlig said.

The metal device is easy to use, according to Bohlig. You can use its backside strap to strap it to your meter, and inside the device, a magnet turns when the water is moving.

"If you go up to your meter and look outside, these are little leak detectors," Bohlig said. "So this little blue dial here, you see it moving around a little bit. That’s how you know you have a potential leak in your house."

"This is thing that blew me away. I have had this for four months now, and I have to tell you I have saved hundreds of dollars because I detect leaks right away," Martin said.