Water Conservation: Because You’re Using More Water Than You Think

Water exists in a cyclical state (Remember the natural water cycle from elementary school? If not, click on this site for a quick refresher:  http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html). Although it’s true that the Earth has plenty of water, it is also true that the vast majority – about 97 percent – is saltwater. An additional 2 percent or so is bound in ice, which leaves about 1 percent of the Earth’s water available for use by humans and most animals.

There’s also this: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/12/16/study-climate-change-could-put-millions-more-at-risk-of-water-scarcity. Some think the trusty water cycle is being affected by Global Warming (I’m one of them), and that we are likely to see increasing water scarcity in some parts of the world in the near future.

How to be Water Efficient

Using water efficiently means using the right amount of water for the task. Why would you choose a 1970’s toilet that uses 5.5 gallons per flush when you could install a high efficiency toilet (HET) that does the same job while only using 1.28 gpf (or even less)? While you’re at it, why not install a low-flow showerhead that uses the right amount of water (1.5 gallons per minute) rather than 2.5 – 4 gallons per minute if the first option gets you just as clean? Replacing water-wasting fixtures with efficient, low-flow devices can save you gallons of water each day – gallons of water you won’t miss.

To make sure you’ve chosen the right toilet, showerhead and faucet aerators (which go on the end of your bathroom and kitchen faucets to control the amount of water used), look for the WaterSense label:

watersense-logo

WaterSense is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to help consumers choose water-efficient fixtures. To earn the WaterSense label, fixtures are independently tested and must prove they use 20 percent less water than similar fixtures well providing good quality service. In other words, WaterSense HET’s have to flush well without clogging. And they do. If you want further documentation re: various brands of toilets and their ability to flush serious “load” click on http://www.map-testing.com/. This site is a toilet nerd’s dream.

To learn more about WaterSense, click on http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

Don’t Waste Potable Water on Your Lawn

I really don’t understand why people use treated, potable water on grass. Actually, I don’t understand why people water grass at all. If you really must water your lawn, try this:

  • Reduce the amount of turf in your overall yard. You’ll have a small spot you can enjoy, but you won’t need lots of water for it.
  • Plant turfgrass that requires little water and is well-suited for your climate…in a small spot you can enjoy.
  • Install rain barrels (or even a larger cistern) and use rainwater for outdoor watering.
  • Install a water-efficient irrigation system and monitor it for leaks and malfunctioning parts.

Follow a Three-Pronged Approach to Conserve Water:

  • If it’s leaking, fix it.
  • If it’s wasting water, replace it.
  • If you waste water, stop it.

Fixing leaks and installing water-efficient fixtures are important, but individual behavior towards water is often the missing piece of the water-saving pie. A low-flow showerhead releases 1.5 gallons per minute, so a five-minute shower uses 7.5 gallons of water. A 20-minute shower with the same showerhead uses 30 gallons of water. Replacing the fixture without changing behavior can only conserve so much water.

Try These Conservation Behaviors:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Shave at the sink, not in the shower
  • Turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth or shaving
  • Wash only full loads of laundry or dishes
  • Take your car to a commercial carwash that recycles water rather than washing your car at home (where the soapy run-off can also lead to stormwater issues…but that’s fodder for another blog post)

I’m sure you can think of a few more. I’d love to hear them, btw.

Conserving water and proud of it,

Jennifer

 

 

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