Youth Tackle Leak Challenge
Since January, Citrus County students in grades three, four and five have been dropping blue dye tablets in toilet tanks to test for leaks.
Citrus County Youth Tackle Toilet Tank Leak Challenge
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about ten percent of homes have leaks, adding to the nearly one trillion gallons of water lost annually nationwide to leaks.
Citrus County Department of Water Resources teamed up with local teachers on the Classroom Toilet Leak Detection Challenge to help address this issue. Teachers instructed students how to test toilets for
leaks. Then, students went home to teach their families about leaks and perform the test with supplies
provided by the county. Citrus County learned last month that the challenge will be included in a United
Kingdom case study for utilities working on approaches to engage consumers on water efficiency.
Citrus County has been hosting the leak detection challenge annually since 2015. Since then, 2,304
youth have tested 3,533 toilets and identified 532 leaks that could waste more than 100,000 gallons of
water a day. In 2023 alone, classes from eight local primary schools have tested 230 toilets and
discovered 22 leaks, for an estimated potential saving of 4,400 gallons a day.
A leaking toilet can waste hundreds of gallons a day and can be silent, according to Debra Burden, water
conservation manager, Citrus County Department of Water Resources. “Anyone can test their toilet for
leaks using food coloring,” said Burden, adding “just place ten drops of food coloring in the toilet tank.
Then, wait 15 minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, the fixture is leaking.” Color should be flushed
away after testing to avoid discoloration.
Toilet leaks are usually fixed by replacing the flapper, which can become hard and brittle over time. The
flapper is a rubber device that opens and closes to allow water into the toilet bowl. When a flapper does
not fit snuggly, water leaks from the tank into the bowl, and down the drain without the need of flushing.
Flappers cost less than $20 and are simple enough for the average homeowner to replace on their own.
Learn more about how we use water by visiting www.epa.gov/watersense/our-water and take the “I’m
for Water” pledge. For more information about water conservation in Citrus County, call 352-527-7669.
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