WHY CONSERVE WATER?
Water conservation is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound way to reduce our demand for water. Conserving water stretches our supplies farther and allows us to do more while using less. Although water is used all over the world to generate electricity, using less water actually conserves a vast amount of energy annually. Using less water also helps to alleviate pressures on our sewage and drainage systems. Most important, however, water conservation helps prolong the lifespan of lakes and rivers that are crucial to health of ecosystems around the world.
FACTS ON WATER
Below are a few amazing facts on water and its use around the world:
- Less than 2% of the Earth’s water supply is fresh water; approximately 1% of that water is frozen.
- Every day in the United States, we drink about 110 million gallons of water.
- The average American uses 140-170 gallons of water per day.
- A leaky faucet can waste 100 gallons a day.
- An average bath requires 37 gallons of water.
- An average family of four uses 881 gallons of water per week just by flushing the toilet.
- The average 5-minute shower takes 15-25 gallons of water--around 40 gallons are used in 10 minutes.
- You use about 5 gallons of water if you leave the water running while brushing your teeth.
- Approximately 1 million miles of pipelines and aqueducts carry water in the U.S. & Canada. That's enough pipe to circle the earth 40 times.
- You can refill an 8-oz glass of water approximately 15,000 times for the same cost as a six-pack of soda pop.
- One inch of rainfall drops 7,000 gallons or nearly 30 tons of water on a 60' by 180' piece of land.
Some of these facts and tips are courtesy of the mojave water agency at www.mojavewater.org and the american water works association.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There are many effective ways to conserve water in and around your home. One easy way to start conserving water is to take stock of how much water you need vs. how much you use every day. Take a look at some of the suggestions below and find ways that work for you. (Indoor savings are based on a family of two adults and one child).
In the Bathroom
- Install low-flow faucet aerators on each of your faucets and a low-flow shower head in the bathroom. Older heads use 5-10 gallons per minute (gpm). All new fixtures use approximately 2.5 gpm and offer equal water coverage and force. You’ll keep the water pressure high, but reduce your average household water usage by up to 45 gallons a day.
There are many great, environmentally friendly options for dual-flush toilets that conserve water with every flush. For a do-it-yourself low-flow version, place 2 plastic bottles weighed down with pebbles and water inside your toilet tank (away from mechanical parts). Just make sure there are at least 3 gallons of water remaining in the tank so it flushes properly - otherwise you’ll have to flush twice and miss the whole point!
If you're taking a shower, don't waste cold water while waiting for hot water to reach the shower head. Catch that water in a container to use on your outside plants or to flush your toilet. This could save you as much as 200 to 300 gallons per month!
- You can save massive amounts of water annually just by fixing simple leaks around your house. The toilet is a common place for such leaks and it’s an easy fix. To check a toilet for leaks, put dye tablets or a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If color appears in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak that should be repaired. Saves 400 gallons a month!
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Those two to three minutes without the sink on can save two to three gallons of water each day. Also, turn the water off while shaving. Instead, fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor. Overall, these two simple adjustments can save you six gallons of water per day – that’s 180 gallons per month!
In the Kitchen
- If you wash dishes by hand (which is the best way) don't leave the water running for rinsing. If you have two sinks, fill one with wash water and one with rinse water. If you only have one sink, consider using a spray device or short blasts of water instead of letting it run constant. Also, when washing dishes by hand, use the least amount of detergent as possible. Using less detergent will minimize the amount of water needed to rinse the dishes. Saves 250 to 650 gallons a month!
- Washing dishes by hand is the best method for water conservation. However, if you use a dishwasher you can still do your part in saving water. If you have a dishwasher, make sure you’re only running full loads so that you make the best use of the water. Small loads use the same amount of water and get less work done. Also, consider purchasing a water-conserving dishwasher.
- Use less water when drinking. No – don’t stop drinking; just stop the wasteful habits associated with drinking water. For example, consider keeping a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator for each member of the household or a pitcher for later use. This beats the habit of running tap water until its cool enough for drinking. Running the water for those few brief seconds every time you need a drink can use 200 to 300 gallons of water every month.
- Don't defrost frozen foods with running water. Either plan ahead by placing frozen items in the refrigerator overnight, or defrost them in the microwave. Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
- When you’re cleaning vegetables, don’t let the faucet run. Instead, rinse vegetables in a filled sink or pan. This can save 150 to 250 gallons per month. When you’re done cleaning/peeling those vegetables, don’t throw them down the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal requires running water. A better alternative would be to use old vegetable skins and other items for compost. Reducing use of the garbage disposal can save 50 to 150 gallons per month.
- Cut down on evaporation by putting a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Chunks of bark, peat moss, and/or gravel slows down evaporation. When mowing your lawn, set the lawn mower blades one notch higher. If you think you can do without the grass, then xeriscaping – replacing your lawn and high-water-using trees and plants with less thirsty ones – is a great option. If you’re considering xeriscaping, do so only in wet years. Even drought resistant plantings take extra water to get them going. Mulch around trees and longer grass can save you 1,500 to 3000 gallons of water per month! Take the lawn out, and you’ll save 500 to 1,500 gallons per month.
- Make sure to follow a few guidelines when watering your lawn. For example, water during the cool parts of the day, between 8:00 pm and 8:00 am. Early morning is better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Watering at this time as opposed to during the middle of the day can save 300 gallons of water.
- Make sure you avoid watering the lawn on windy days, as this drastically increases the amount of evaporation – not to mention the water blowing away from your lawn. Watering on a windy day can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering! In addition, cut down watering on cool and overcast days and never water in the rain. Make sure you can easily adjust or deactivate automatic sprinklers if necessary.
- If your children enjoy playing in the sprinklers, try to let them do it when you’re watering the yard – if it’s not too cool at that time of day. Some kids just like playing with the garden hose; most garden hoses shoot out 10 gallons of water every minute.
- Drive your car onto a lawn to wash it. Rinse water can help water the grass.
- When taking your car to a car wash – which is a good idea for saving water – be sure it's one of the many that recycles its wash water. If you’re washing at home, consider driving your car onto the lawn to wash it, as rinse water can help water the grass.
- Finally, dispose of hazardous materials properly! One quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water, effectively eliminating that much water from our water supply. Contact your city or county for proper waste disposal options. And never flush prescription medications!
Tips found in materials published by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and other sources. Click here to read over 100 easy ways YOU can conserve water. http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php