Water conservation is a touchy topic among local water officials because it is often associated with water restrictions - triggering alarm among customers - and because it cuts into water sales.

Restrictions have been imposed in some Utah communities this summer when the dry season has combined with a well failure or other water distribution difficulties, but voluntary conservation is also desirable to some homeowners who simply want to reduce the amount of their monthly water bill.Whatever the reason, tips from the Water Education Foundation and other sources will help those who want to scale down their water use without adversely affecting their lifestyle.

Inside the home, the foundation suggests all plumbing fixtures be checked for leaks. Fixtures designed to save water, like water-saving shower heads, are readily available and are even required by some local building codes. Sandy, for example, requires water-conserving shower heads to be installed in new homes.

Other inside conservation tips include possibly altering water-use habits slightly: Put the stopper in the tub before turning on the water, use dishwashers and washing machines only when full, use garbage disposals sparingly and keep a bottle of water chilled in the refrigerator for drinking rather than running the tap until the water cools.

Turning off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, washing dishes, cleaning vegetables and performing other sink-side chores will also turn a major water use into a very minor one.

Most people who have lived through a water shortage have heard of the brick in the toilet technique for saving water. The foundation recommends a weighted plastic bottle be placed in the toilet tank rather than a brick, which can disintegrate and clog plumbing. Also, don't flush trash down the toilet.

Outside the home, water the lawn only when it's thirsty. Overwatering a lawn can be harmful just like underwatering. Water suppliers and county agriculture officials usually have information that can help in establishing a watering schedule.

Lawns watered early in the morning lose little of the moisture to evaporation from the hot sun. Careful placement of sprinklers puts the water on the lawn and keeps it from watering the sidewalk, driveway or street.

Lawns cut shorter also lose moisture faster than lawns where the blades are left longer, according to the foundation.

Cleaning up yard clippings and other debris with a rake or broom rather than the garden hose also conserves water. When washing the car, use a trigger nozzle or turn off the water while you soap the car from a bucket.

Place several inches of mulch around plants to cut down on evaporation and keep water-robbing weeds down. Drought resistant landscaping plants are also available at many nurseries. They use less water and are frequently easier to care for than thirstier plants.