Californians use on average 196 gallons of water per day. An essential first step to conserve in your home, business, or other facility is to understand where you use water.
Residential users can follow simple steps to determine how and where water is used on their property, and find information, resources, and tools to save water. Commercial, industrial and multi-family properties can find helpful resources and best management practices to save water. Additionally, find resources to address leaks and understand your water bill, as well as how to request guides to conserve water.
Residential water saving steps & tips
To save water in your home, calculate how much water your household uses, and then conduct an indoor water survey and request free conservation gear.
Step 1: Sign up for a Home Water Use Report
Sign up for the WaterSmart web portal to help track and manage your water use. With the WaterSmart web portal, single-family residential customers can receive periodic Home Water Use Reports, sign up for leak alerts, and compare their water usage to others in their city, among other great features. The water retailers who currently offer this service are as follows:
- The City of Milpitas
- The City of Morgan Hill
- The City of Palo Alto
- San Jose Municipal Water
- The City of Santa Clara
If you are unsure which is your water retailer, check the Find My Water Retailer tool.
Step 2: Estimate water use
Begin by understanding how much water you use by looking at your water bill and the water use calculator.
Understanding your bill
Find information about understanding your water bill on the Find My Water Retailer page.
Water use calculator
Use the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Home Water Works Calculator to quickly estimate how much water your household uses and compare it to a similar average and a highly-efficient home. It also shows you where to begin your home water conservation efforts.
Throughout the Home Water Works website, you’ll find useful tips and resources for saving water and money without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
Step 3: Perform a Water Wise Indoor Survey
Get a Water Wise Indoor Survey Kit:
The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Water Wise Indoor Survey Kit includes a step-by-step guide to performing your own indoor water survey to identify where to look for potential leaks. It includes toilet dye tablets, a simple device to help you measure the flow rates of your sinks and showers, and a step-by-step guide to teach you how to check for:
- Sink/Shower flow rates
- Meter leaks
- Toilet leaks
- General indoor leaks
You can receive the DIY Water Wise Indoor Survey Kit either:
Online: Use the kit’s online guide for immediate help. This does not include toilet dye tablets or the device to measure flow rates.
By mail: To get dye tablets and a simple flow-rate device along with a physical copy of the step-by-step guide, visit our online shopping cart!
Water Wise Indoor Survey video demonstrations:
Watch our how-to videos to learn how to perform several tests to check for leaks and flow rates.
Meter leak test: Reading your water meter is one of the best ways to identify a leak. Your water retailer can help you find your meter box, and how to open it if you can’t find it near the sidewalk in front of your home. (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese)
House line test: Find if leaks are indoors or out. (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese)
Toilet leak test: Check your toilets for leaks with leak detection dye, available with the DIY Water Wise Indoor Survey.(Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese)
Measure sink and shower flow rates: Figure which appliances are ready for an upgrade. (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese)
Step 4: Get free water conservation gear
Learn more about the free water saving devices available from Valley Water and request your free water conservation gear by visiting our online shopping cart.
Step 5: Outdoor water conservation
Conserving water happens both inside and outside your home.
Schedule a Water Wise Outdoor Survey
Valley Water offers free irrigation and landscape surveys to qualifying single-family, and small commercial and multi-family sites (under ½-acre) in Santa Clara County. During a Water Wise Outdoor Survey, a trained irrigation professional will complete a comprehensive evaluation of your irrigation system. Schedule a survey today!
Other tips and resources
Save Our Water offers several conservation resources, including:
- A an interactive virtual tour of a water-efficient home
- Quick tips conserve water around the house and the yard
Commercial, industrial and multi-family complexes water conservation
Using water more efficiently can reduce your business’s risk of future water shortages and increasing costs. Find best management practices, informational resources, free services and rebates to help your facility start saving water today.
Services available from Valley Water
Valley Water provides several services to help commercial businesses, industrial sites, and multi-family complexes save water. These include:
- Learning about water saving devices and equipment
- Receiving free services and equipment
- Applying for commercial and facility rebates
- Requesting free large landscape surveys
Ideas to get you started
Whether you manage an office building, school, hotel, hospital, restaurant, or another type of facility, it’s important to ask:
What Water Savings Strategies should you pursue and prioritize? The best place to start in familiarizing yourself with options for your business to save water and money while conserving our natural resources.
What are the Best Management Practices for your business to be implementing already? Provides an overview of tips for operating, maintaining, retrofitting options, and calculating savings potential and Return-On-Investment of technologies and behaviors to implement.
What free tools and resources are available to identify where you can save? Offers water assessment checklists that range from simple and easy to use, to targeted for specific facilities like hotels and multi-family properties.
How can you better measure your water use so you can manage it? This free online Portfolio Manager tool from Energy Star will help. Join the 40% of commercial buildings in the US that already use this free tool for managing your energy and water use today.
Multi-family properties & hotels resources
- Find free resource guides and tools to help you understand, manage, and improve water use efficiency cost-effectively.
- Learn how to assess, upgrade, and track water savings by joining more than 860 hotels in the US in the H2Otel Challenge. You’ll find case studies, webinars, and easy to use tools to save water and money while maintaining the level of service your guests expect.
The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or more than 9,000 gallons of water annually, from leaks alone. Even small leaks that go undetected can waste gallons of water every day.
The 10-minute checklist from WaterSense [PDF] will help you locate potential leaks on your property. Our Do-It-Yourself Water Wise Survey will walk you through many of the steps covered in this checklist.
Request a Practical Plumbing Guide on our online shopping cart to help you fix leaks in your home.
View a video overview of how to check for leaks in your sprinkler system from the Region of Peel in Ontario, or request a free outdoor survey from us to do this for you.
In less than 6 minutes, learn how to check your sprinklers for leaks, from the City of Santa Barbara.
Learn how to check your drip system for leaks, from the City of Santa Barbara.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)?
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)––also commonly referred to as smart meters––is an integrated system of meters and information systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers. This system allows utilities/water retailers to better collect water usage data, support customer billing, and manage water resources. Their ability to collect frequent and accurate water usage data will improve customer billing and leak detection.
In other words, one may think of these as digital water meters. For commercial properties and HOA’s, AMI facilitates collection and communication of more frequent (e.g., hourly) water use data that can help facility managers better understand water usage and identify leaks. Valley Water cost shares AMI deployment meaning we provide funding to select water retailers to modernize water meters in their service area more quickly and more cost effectively than without this funding. These cost-sharing agreements are in support of the objectives outlined in Valley Water’s 2040 Water Supply Master Plan.
AMI meters allow for remote collection of water use data – in real time; most importantly, they also allow a utility to quickly identify excessive water use that could be the result of leaks. Most water retailers allow customer access to their hourly water use data; and most of the time, water retailers also alert customers if they detect a continuous flow that may be due to a leak. Some water retailers even enable an alert if your AMI detects an unusual water use pattern. Please check with your water retailer (the entity that sends you your water bills). EPA WaterSense provides additional information to learn more.
Does my water retailer offer AMI?
Several water retailers in Santa Clara County are implementing AMI in their service areas. Since 2016, over 30,000 AMI meters have been installed throughout the county. Reach out to your water retailer to determine when AMI will be implemented in your area.
Retailer AMI Status as of March 2023
|Retailer||Total Meters||% Implementation||Valley Water Cost-sharing|
|City of Gilroy||14,400||95%||Yes|
|City of Milpitas||16,351||100%||Yes|
|City of Morgan Hill||14,500||100%||Yes|
|San Jose Water Company||253,000||*||No|
*San Jose Water Company received approval for AMI implementation by the California Public Utilities Commission in June 2022.
Flow Monitoring Devices
What is a Dedicated Landscape Meter, Flow Sensor, and Hydrometer?
A dedicated irrigation meter is a water meter that exclusively meters water used for outdoor watering and irrigation. These meters are commonly used in commercial sites as well as city parks and playing fields. Dedicated irrigation meters are often used in homeowner associations to measure irrigation in common landscaped areas.
Flow sensors and hydrometers are two devices that monitor water flow through an irrigation system, each having a different type of flow mechanism. Each works in conjunction with an irrigation controller to take corrective action such as stopping water flow via a master valve, or by sending an alert message via a controller app or system. This is very helpful in detect issues, such as pipe breaks, as well as conserving water.
Flow sensors and hydrometers must be installed into an irrigation system near the point of connection and must have compatible irrigation controller. Typically, a flow device and controller must be used from the same manufacturer for a residential irrigation system. This avoids incompatibility issues across different manufacturers; and in general, technical support can help you troubleshoot and solve issues if all the connected devices are from the same manufacturer.
Does Valley Water offer a rebate for Dedicated Landscape Meters, Flow Sensors and Hydrometers?
Valley Water offers rebates for Dedicated Landscape Meters, Flow Sensors and Hydrometers for both residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional properties like schools and parks.
What is an individual flow monitoring device and what are the models available on the market?
Flow monitoring devices track your home’s water use and can help detect leaks. These devices are relatively new products. In general, you need to have reliable Wi-Fi at the installation location, and a smart device such as a smartphone or tablet with app-accessibility to access information from the device. Most of these are also web enabled, but for real time alerts, a user is better off with a phone alert system set up.
It is important to check the type of water meter you have. Some flow monitor devices attach to the water retailer’s meter and are only designed for a specific type of meter. Your local water retailer may have installed meters that work with some flow monitor devices, but not others. Additionally, it is possible that at a future date, your water retailer may choose to upgrade to a different type of meter that would no longer be compatible with the device. Lastly, not all water retailers allow these devices, and it is important to check with your water retailer before purchasing and installing a flow monitoring device.
Some devices may require professional installation. Refer to the product information for details on these devices, including whether they can be self-installed or must be installed by a licensed plumber.
Example Flow Monitoring Devices
The following chart contains examples of flow monitoring devices. It is not intended to be a recommendation or endorsement of these items. If you have a product that performs comparable that may be appropriate to add to this list, please contact us at [email protected] or (408)630-2554.
Flo by Moen
Video: Become a leak detective at home
To request water conservation literature, visit our online shopping cart. Literature includes magazines on practical plumbing, easy water-wise gardening, gardening for wildlife, soil health, and more.
Call the Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630-2554 or email [email protected].