We are closing in on 2013 and about to start a new year. Along with that comes many New Year’s resolutions and an opportunity to start over, work towards a new goal, or challenge yourself to make a difference in something.

As we wrap up 2013 one thing that has remained a constant has been water. Not only looking at water quality, but water quantity and where it comes from. Proposition 6 was passed by the voters of Texas in November which was “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.” We have also seen improved technologies and research related to water quality, water conservation and management of water.

So how can you make a difference? There are many different conservation measures that can be implemented--- from the landscapes we plant, to the irrigation schedules on our lawns, rainwater collection, water efficient appliances/fixtures and many more. Not only do water conservation measures help conserve water for the future, but it also can provide you with an overall cost savings by reducing the water you purchase.

Simple things you can do indoors include:?• Running the dishwasher only when full – saves 2 gallons day

• Not leave water running while rinsing the dishes – saves 5 gallons per day

• Fix a leaky toilet – saves 30 gallons per day

•Fill bathtub half full while bathing – saves 18 gallons per person per day

Simple things that can be done outdoors include:

• Reducing irrigation runtime by 2 minutes – saves 80 gallons per day

• Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks – saves 22 gallons

• Repair at least one pipe leak or broken sprinkler head – saves 20 gallons per day

As you begin 2014, stop and take a minute to think about water conservation and steps that you can take to help manage one of our most precious natural resources. One quick and easy thing to do is to take the 40 gallon challenge. Start the challenge by simply going to http://40gallonchallenge.org and stating what practices you will implement to help reduce your water footprint. The goal is to reduce our water footprint by 40 gallons per person per day. You basically pledge to implement certain practices, and it compiles the pledges made for each county into one report, showing the potential water conservation efforts. It is very interesting to see how big of an impact you can have by making a few changes or repairs around your home.

Whit Weems is an Erath County extension agent. His column appears weekly and online at yourstephenvilletx.com.