water

One Less – Indoor Water Conservation

As with air, we tend to take for granted cheap, clean water; that is, as long as we’re not suffering through a drought, as is currently being experienced by California.

Yet, water conservation, doing “less” with less water, is something we all need to practice – to set an example for our kids and communities. It’s easy too; a few small changes in your daily habits equal thousands of gallons saved per month, saving you money too.

How much water do we use?

  • The U.S. uses 450 billion gallons of water every day. Imagine Manhattan (23 square miles), wrapped by a 100 foot high retaining wall, then filled to the brim with water – any building shorter than 10 stories (ignoring Manhattan’s hills) would be below the surface of the water!
  • Of that 450 billion gallons, 94% goes to irrigation, thermoelectric power and other industrial uses; only 6% is used for the public water supply. This 6% is equal to 185 gallons per person per day.
  • Of that 185 gallons, fully half is used in watering the yard, 14% gets flushed down toilets, 10% is used for showers and baths, 13% for laundry and dishwashing, 8% for faucets, while leaks consume 5%. The amount you end up drinking comprises less than 1%.
U.S. domestic water usage

U.S. Domestic Water Usage (source: 2012, Mammoth County Water District)

Some less pleasant facts…

  • Over the next century, California will require three times more groundwater than can be supplied. As California feeds so much of the nation and the world, this impacts everyone’s food prices. Lake Mead, which supplies much of California, has a 50% chance of running dry by 2021.
  • Nearly half of U.S. rivers and lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life; primary threats being runoff from pesticides, fertilizers, animal wastes, and mining operations.
  • Freshwater pollution is a problem for half the world’s population, water borne diseases killing roughly 5 to 10 million each year.
  • One drip every second equals 150 gallons of wasted water a month.

What Can We Do About It?
Conserving water starts with you and me. Key ways you can conserve water inside your home (next week I will cover the outdoors):

  • Dishwashers are more water efficient than hand washing, but if you must, fill a basin with soapy water, wash, then rinse briskly under a low flow faucet.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of water then use the water on houseplants.
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator or microwave, not under running water.
  • Install a local “instant hot” water heater under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to reduce both energy and water waste.
  • Cook food in smaller pots and pans, saving both water and energy.
  • Run your washer and dishwasher only when full and save 1,000 gallons a month. Wash clothes in cold or cool settings rather than hot.
  • Install high efficiency showerheads and newer, efficient toilets, considering dual flush toilets, and save thousands of gallons per month.
  • Baths are 70 gallons each. Take fewer baths, or take showers. Take shorter showers.
  • Shut off water when brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or shaving and save 1800 gallons a month for a family of four.
  • Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.
  • Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.

Visit these great websites for more information:
49 Ways to Conserve Water
20 Interesting and Useful Water Facts
55 Facts, Figures and Follies of Water Conservation
Interesting Water Facts

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