Conservation of Water
Water is the most abundant natural resource on Earth and is essential for survival of all known forms of life. Although approximately 70% of the planet's surface is covered with water, the majority of this is unsuitable for human consumption. Of the nearly 1500 trillion tons of water that covers the Earth's surface, approximately 95% of this is saltwater contained in the oceans on our planet.
- How Much Water Do We Use?
- Water Conservation in the Bathroom
- Conserve Water in the Yard and Garden
- Water Conservation in the Kitchen
- Water Conservation in Your Community
How Much Water Do We Use?
The average person in North America uses 50 to 70 gallons daily on "indoor uses" of which 75% of this is typically used in the bathroom. In the average home, the toilet accounts for 30% of water use: you do the math, for a family of four, that is approximately 70 gallons a day "flushed away". Outdoors, the average water usage per person is similar to the indoor usage numbers contingent on season and location, with car washing, lawn and garden watering generating the highest water use. Running a sprinkler continuously is one of the biggest water-waste abusers, as two hours can use up to 500 gallons.
Water Conservation in the Bathroom
- Check For Toilet Tank Leaks - An easy way to do this is to add food coloring to the tank and wait 30 minutes: if the toilet is leaking, the color will migrate to the bowl.
- Install Low Water Use Toilets - These low-flush versions only use 1 to 2 gallons per flush versus the 3 to 5 gallons utilized by a traditional toilet.
- Check the Toilet Flapper (float) - This is typically made of rubber and does eventually wear out - if is doesn't close after flushing, replace it.
- Install Low-Flow Devices - Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators in your sinks. Both are low-cost measures that will pay off quickly in savings on your water bill.
- Reduce Time in the Shower - Try turning off the water after getting wet, soaping up, then turning it back on to rinse. A five-minute shower can use up to 60 gallons of water.
- Don't Let Water Run Continuously - While shaving, washing your face or hands, or brushing your teeth don't let the water run during these chores.
- Flush Only When Necessary - Of course, this is a personal decision, but you do the math... yellow is a very pretty color...
Conserve Water in the Yard and Garden
- Water lawns during the early morning hours to reduce evaporation losses due to wind and temperature effects.
- Deep-soak your lawn. The most effective method to water your lawn is to do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots: a good measurement method involves putting an empty tuna can on your lawn - when it's full, this is the optimum amount.
- Don't use your hose to clean driveways and sidewalks; use a broom or blower instead.
- When washing your car, do it on the grass (and use a spray nozzle on the hose and bucket) or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. There are even waterless car washing systems available now (such as EcoTouch).
- Use a rain catching system to collect natural rainwater to use for watering your yard or garden. Installing rain gutters and collecting water from downspouts is another method to collect water for lawn and garden reuse later.
- If you have a pool, cover it. Not only will this keep leaves and bugs out of the pool and provide slight heating, it will save thousands of gallons of water from evaporation.
- Install a water-saving pool filter if you have a swimming pool; each time you backwash with a traditional filter up to 250 gallons or more of water is wasted.
- Use a drip irrigation system to water plants. Trickle irrigation and drip irrigation systems use very small amounts of water that when set up properly is supplied directly to the base of the plants. Since the water is applied directly to the soil, rather than onto the plant, evaporation from leaf surfaces is reduced.
- Increase the height of your lawn mower blades. Longer grass means less evaporation, encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn.
- Use AC cooling system drain line water to water a flower bed, garden or lawn using a bucket or a longer hose.
- Add mulch to your soil. Mulching retains the soil's moisture and helps to control weeds that rob other plants of water. Adding 2 - 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
- Check sprinklers regularly to ensure they are directed properly and water is not being wasted on driveways, fences, sidewalks etc.
- Shut off your automatic watering system after a rainy day or if rain is forecasted.
- Don't over water your lawn. Generally, lawns only need watering every 5 to 7 days in the summer and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A good heavy rain can eliminate the need for watering for up to two weeks.
Water Conservation in the Kitchen
- Don't let the faucet run while you clean fruits and vegetables; rinse them in a tub of clean water or use a wet paper towel.
- Don't run water to thaw meat or other frozen foods; defrost items using the microwave setting or better yet plan ahead and defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
- Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink to eliminate the need let the water run while it heats up; if this is not an option, collect the water in a pan and use it for another purpose such as watering plants.
- Start a compost pile to dispose of food waste in place of your garbage disposal, which uses a significant amount of water to properly function.
- Scrape food off dishes into the trash rather than rinsing; most newer dishwashers donít even require pre-rinsed dishes.
- Don't let the faucet run when rinsing dishes if you are handwashing; fill one sink with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, simply put the washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them quickly with a spray device or a pitcher of hot water.
- Keep drinking water in the refrigerator if you drink tap water rather than running the faucet to produce cool water.
- Minimize water for boiling food. Just use enough to submerge pastas or vegetables, not only will you help the environment but this is healthier as nutrients are maintained. After cooling, you can even use the water left over from boiling to water your plants or even to make soups!
- Only run full loads if you must use an automatic dishwasher, and air dry dishes instead of heat drying.
- Soak pots and pans with minimal amounts of soapy water instead of letting the water run continuously while you scrape them clean.
Water Conservation in Your Community
- Report Incidences of Water Abuse - If you see an instance of significant water loss such as a malfunctioning fire hydrant, a broken pipe or sprinkler line, report it to the property owner or appropriate Water Management authority.
- Reward Conservation Efforts - Patronizing businesses that practice and promote water conservation.
- Buy Natural Foods - Natural whole foods such as vegetables, rice and beans take less water to produce than processed foods like potato chips, sweets, and frozen dinners (not to mention they are much better for you!).
- Support Community and Educational Efforts - Support these efforts aimed at promoting water conservation. Encourage and support family, friends, neighbors, employers and schools in their efforts and to be part of a water conscious community. Promote these water conservation efforts in community and online newsletters, on bulletin boards and any other means available.
- Conserve Water It's the Right Thing to Do - Use the same guidelines for conservation whether you are staying at a friends home, a hotel, or a campground.
These are some excellent tips that will help you reduce your water footprint and encourage others to do the same. Because most of the things on this list save on water and energy costs, they will also save you money in the long-run, despite some minimal up-front costs.