Plumbing and Mechanical

10 Water Conservation Tips

May 8, 2009

National Drinking Water Week (May 3-9, 2009) is coming to an end, but the preservation of our drinking water is a year-round event.

Drinking Water Week is sponsored by the American Water Works Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other groups to highlight the importance of tap water and the critical need to invest in the nation’s drinking water infrastructure.

The past few years have seen droughts in many parts of the country; many experts predict that at least 36 states will face water shortages within the next five years. The AWWA says that “in the United States alone, communities use approximately 40 billion gallons of tap water each day for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and other everyday uses. To meet increased demand, the water community is investing in new technologies such as water reuse and desalination of ocean and brackish water.”

Here are 10 water conservation tips from the AWWA:

1. Don’t leave the sink running while you brush your teeth.
2. Fully load the dishwasher and clothes washer before running them.
3. Consider landscapes that use native or drought-resistant plants that do not require much water.
4. Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping faucets can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year in the average home. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.
5. Install water-efficient appliances in your home. Look for the EPA WaterSense labels, and check with your local water system to see if they offer rebates.
6. Don’t over-water your lawn, and water early in the morning or at night to avoid excess evaporation.
7. When the driveway or sidewalk needs cleaning, consider a broom instead of a hose. It can save up to 80 gallons of water.
8. If you have a swimming pool, use a cover. You will cut the loss of water by evaporation by 90 percent.
9. Help preserve the quality of the available water supply by not overusing pesticides and fertilizers, avoiding flushing medications down the toilet or sink, and disposing of hazardous materials properly.
10. Place rain barrels beneath your downspouts. The rainwater can be used for outdoor plants and trees or to wash a car.

Infrastructure

Water infrastructure projects involve engineering, pipe and valve manufacturing, concrete and construction work and more. Water utilities are highlighting the need to invest in water infrastructure to limit leaks from water mains, which wastes millions of gallons of clean water, plus that money used to treat the water.

The AWWA recently estimated that a $10 billion investment in water infrastructure projects in the United States would almost immediately create at least 400,000 jobs.

The EPA’s recent Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment reports that the nation’s water utilities will need to invest an estimated $334.8 billion over the next 20 years to deal with aging infrastructure.

Education

The NSF Consumer Affairs Office has developed a Water Fact Kit to help educate consumers on water quality and water conservation issues.  Some of the materials in the fact kit include:

  • Video: Learn More About Choosing a Drinking Water Treatment Unit.

  • Three Steps to Selecting a Home Water Treatment System.

  • Frequently Asked Questions about Home Water Treatment Devices.

  • The Six Standards for Home Water Treatment Devices.

  • Lead and Home Water Treatment Devices.

  • Eight Ways to Protect Well Water Supplies.

  • Water Conservation Tips ... Every Drop Matters.

  • Water Testing Tips For Private Wells.

  • Understanding Bottled Water.

  • Ten Ways to Make Your Pool and Spa Safer.


NSF’s Drinking Water Week Web page has a variety of educational activities, including a water usage experiment to help kids understand how much water a leaky faucet wastes, a water activity book and educational articles on drinking water contaminants and treatment options.

The EPA has a “Kid’s Stuff” page where you can find projects and experiments to help kids understand water conservation. For “big kids,” check out the Education Resources page.