Americans take water for granted. We think our water is abundant, that is constantly replenished and ever flowing.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While in some places the water supply might seem abundant, the facts tell a different story. Between 1950 and 2000, the U.S. population nearly doubled, while our use of water through public supplies more than tripled.
With demand outstripping supply, at least 36 states anticipate water shortage by 2013. The bottom line is, supplies are limited and demands are growing.
It is easier and less expensive to save water than it is to find new supplies. Communities face increasing challenges with maintaining and creating new water systems.
The key to saving our water is thinking about our habits. Each American uses an average of 100 gallons of water a day. We can cut that by as much as 30 percent, through a few simple steps.
First, we need to recognize how we use water. Leaving the tap open during a daily ritual like brushing our teeth uses around eight gallons of water -- that’s the same amount of water as the average person drinks in 16 days! By turning the tap off you will use less than a half gallon.
Second, technology is making water efficiency easier than ever. Efficient appliances and fixtures are a good place to start. They are cost effective and can dramatically reduce your daily water use. For example, point-of-use water heaters prevent excess water use while waiting for the hot water to reach the faucet or shower.
We can change the way we use water outside our homes too. Many people don’t realize that 30 percent of household water is used outside. I believe that number to be higher in very arid areas such as ours. A well-maintained irrigation system can achieve excellent landscaping results while using much less water. Look for sprinklers that provide droplets, not mist, make sure your system is well maintained and that water is evenly distributed. Set your timers properly.
The Virgin Valley Water District has partnered with the U.S. EPA to promote the Water Sense program. (www.epa.gov/watersense) The Water Sense Program offers a simple way to make product choices that use less water. Using Water Sense labeled products will help save water and money while preserving limited resources for the future. For example, if every home in the U.S. installed Water Sense labeled faucets or aerators in the bathroom, it would save 60 billion gallons of water annually, saving households more than $350 million in water bills and $600 million in energy costs to heat their water.
Saving water is a smart, cost effective, win-win solution. When you look at the impact of water efficiency as a bigger picture, it’s clear it’s the only way we can go. It’s about changing what we know and turning that knowledge into action.