You Can Make a Difference!
The ever-increasing demand for water in North America in turn drives the building of new dams, the digging of new wells, and the increasing use of water from our natural water bodies. Using too much water contributes significantly to ‘non-point source pollution,’ which is what happens when water moves across the ground, collecting pollutants from various sources, eventually depositing them into our drinking water supplies.
The effective use of water – along with the reduced use of things like pesticides – can be a way to significantly reduce pollution caused by excessive watering and other forms of water use. Consider just a few of the environmental benefits of effective water use…
- Reduced sewage system failures (the result of being overwhelmed by more water than the systems were designed to handle).
- Healthier, rather than depleted, overburdened natural pollution filters – such as adjacent or downstream wetland areas.
- Reducing over-irrigation of agricultural and residential/commercial lands means less water contamination from polluted runoff… since over-irrigating residential, commercial, and agricultural land increases the amount of dirty run-off water flowing into natural water supplies… run-off that carries sediments, salts, various pollutants, and nutrients. And while nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium occur naturally, habitats can be destroyed when too much of any one nutrient – especially phosphorus – is concentrated in the soil or water.
- Reducing the need for additional dams, reservoir construction, or other obstructions to the natural flow of water – will help preserve and retain the value of our natural waterways as buffers to development, wildlife habitats, and for recreational use… since dams and water flow obstructions generate non-point source pollution by trapping and concentrating sediment and other pollutants, which decreases dissolved oxygen and alters natural water temperatures… all of which affect water quality, both upstream and downstream.
- Less short-term need for additional water and wastewater treatment facilities.
- Lowered demand for surface water, which, left unchecked, tends to alter natural stream and river flows, degrade the natural habitat in streams, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, as well as the land adjacent to them.
The more effective use of water can also help reduce the energy required to treat wastewater, which would result in lower energy demand and fewer of the harmful power plant byproducts. Consider that…
- While most of us understand creating hot water requires energy, we may not be aware that supplying and treating cold water requires a significant amount of energy too. Canadian public water supply and treatment facilities consume about nearly 5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year – enough energy to power more than 500,000 homes for an entire year.
- If we replaced just 1% of our older toilets with the latest, low-volume variety, we could save nearly 4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough to meet the current demands of over 4,000 households — for an entire month.
- Leaving a faucet running for as little as five minutes uses about as much energy as a 60-watt light bulb would need to stay lit for nearly 14 hours.
Making just a few small changes to your daily routine can save a significant amount of water, which helps you save money and preserve water supplies for your children and theirs. Water-efficient plumbing fixtures and sprinkler systems can provide the same performance and quality you’ve come to expect, but with the added benefit of water savings and efficiency. Always look for certified plumbing and irrigation professionals to help you identify high-efficiency products and programs.
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to reduce your water consumption…
Fix that Leak…
Challenge – Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of only one drip each second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year.
Solution – If you’re not sure if you have a leak, read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter doesn’t show exactly the same reading, you probably have a leak.
Challenge – A leaky flapper seal on your toilet water tank can waste as many as 200 gallons of water a day.
Solution – To tell if your toilet flapper seal is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If, after a few minutes, you can see the color in your toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leaky flapper seal.
Challenge – Afull bath tub holds about 70 gallons of water, while a five-minute shower uses 10 – to – 25 gallons.
Solution – If you take a bath, rather than running the water down the drain while you wait for it to get hot, block the drain before you turn on the water and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub.
Turn it Off…
Challenge – The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of about two gallons a minute.
Solution – Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime and save up to 8 gallons of water day, or about 240 gallons a month.
Challenge – The typical single-family residential home uses as much as 30% of their water for outdoor sprinkler/irrigation systems purposes. And some experts estimate that more than 50% of the water used on landscapes is lost (that’s wasted) due to evaporation or runoff – both caused by over-watering. And more and more communities and individuals are asking that their landscapes be both attractive and environmentally sustainable – especially when it comes to the efficient use of water.
Solution – Unlike traditional irrigation controllers, which are really just timers that run the sprinklers on a pre-determined schedule and are typically interrupted only by a basic rain gauge, shut-off manually, a new generation of so-called “smart,” weather-based irrigation systems or controllers work by monitoring and using information about site conditions (such as soil moisture, rain, wind, slope, soil, plant type, and more), and applying the right amount of water based on those factors – not too much and not too little – to maintain healthy growing conditions. Once the “smart” controller is installed and set up, it automatically takes care of seasonal weather/site specific adjustments, and doesn’t typically require ongoing monitoring. Water savings of between 16% and as much as 24% have been reported.
Make it a Full Load…
Challenge – The average washing machine uses over 40 gallons of water for each load.
Solution – High-efficiency washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water for each load… and to gain even more savings, whenever possible, use the cold water settings, and wait until you have a full load – or use the appropriate load-size selection if you can’t wait for a full load.
Don’t Flush Your Money Down the Drain…
Challenge – If your toilet was made/installed before 1993, you likely have a water guzzling, inefficient model that uses as much as 7 gallons each time you flush.
Solution – New and improved high-efficiency, low-volume models now use as little as 1.3 gallons per flush, or less – that’s about 60% less water than older versions. So, if you’re a typical family of four, replacing your old toilets with high-efficiency models can save you as much as $1,000 over the next 10 years – without compromising performance.
Bottom line is… little things can mean a lot. And when it comes to your water usage, a lot of little things can make a huge difference on your water bills.