Conserve Water

by Elizabeth Creehan
The Challenge

Carefully conserving water lessens the damaging effects of droughts.

Droughts can decrease food production, raise food prices, increase fire hazards, as well as worsen soil erosion and insect infestation.

Droughts are a normal part of climate cycles so they can be somewhat anticipated and planned for. Therefore it is possible, as well as crucial, to conserve water now to minimize the effects of drought later.

Water conservation needs to be a higher priority for Americans. People in the United States use more water per person than citizens of any other country. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an American family of four uses water at a pace of 400 gallons per day at home alone. As of 2008, at least 36 states expected to have a water shortage by 2013, according to estimates from the US government. Why? Increasing sprawl and population growth, rising temperatures and droughts, and inefficient water use. 

That announcement was followed up by another in December 2013, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 11 major US cities could expect to experience severe water shortages in the near future. 

Of the world’s total water supply, 97.5 percent is salt water, and less than 0.5 percent is usable unpolluted clean water. Many major rivers around the world, including the Colorado, Ganges, Rio Grande, and Yellow, are running dry part of the year.

Highest volume water uses inside the home include:

  • Toilet: 26.7% (although water-saving toilets can reduce this amount)
  • Clothes Washer: 21.7%
  • Shower: 16.8% (water-saving faucets can cut this figure down)
  • Faucets: 15.7%
  • Leaks: 13.7%

It's so simple to conserve water and dramatically help the environment... and your checkbook.

Remembering to conserve water throughout your daily routine will eventually turn into such an ingrained habit that you won't even have to think about it.

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You can start water conservation in your home today. Here are some tips to save water:

  • Don't let the water run needlessly when washing dishes, shaving, or brushing your teeth.
  • Take shorter showers... keeping showers less than 5 minutes can save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
  • Plug the bathtub before turning the water on, and then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  • Fix leaky faucets: Just one drip a second can waste 2,000 gallons of water per year.
  • If practical, try to run the dishwasher or washing machine only when completely full.
  • If you live in an older home, consider replacing your plumbing with low-flow fixtures and low-flush toilets.
  • Water your lawn only when necessary and consider landscaping with native plants adaptable to your climate's conditions.
  • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water to use to water plants later. This also works when washing dishes or vegetables in the sink.
  • Place water collection vessels such as barrels or large buckets to collect rain water from down spouts and gutters. Use the water to water your plants.
  • Use the garbage disposal minimally and compost instead.

More information on water conservation and other tips to help save water are available from:

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