There's as much water in the world today as there was thousands of years ago.
Actually, it's the same water. The water from your faucet could contain molecules that
dinosaurs drank. Perhaps Columbus sailed across it.
Nearly 97% of the world's water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another 2% is
locked in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1% for all of humanity's needs -all
its agricultural, manufacturing, community, and personal household needs.
In Kane County, we receive about 37.8 inches of precipitation each year. Across
the whole County, that adds up to 277 billion gallons per year, or 686,000 gallons per
The United States uses some 450 billion gallons of water every day or
1,600 gallons per person.
The average household uses 350 gallons of water per day, or 127,400 gallons per
If all U.S. households installed water-saving features, water use would decrease
by 30 percent, saving an estimated 5.4 billion gallons per day.
Indirect uses of water also add up quickly:
Each gallon of gasoline per week requires 1,000 gallons of water
Each can of soda requires 29,000 gallons of water to produce.
Each newspaper requires 66,000 gallons of water to produce.
Every glass of water brought to your table in a restaurant requires another two
glasses of water to wash and rinse the glass. Since nearly 70 million meals are served
each day in US restaurants, we'd save more than 26 million gallons of water if only one
person in four declined the complimentary glassful.
WATER CONSERVATION IN YOUR HOME
- About 40% of water used indoors gets flushed down toilets,
more than 30% is used in showers and baths, the laundry and dishwashing take about 15%,
leaks claim 5% or more, which leaves about 10% for everything else.
Conserving Throughout the House
- By installing more efficient water fixtures and regularly
checking for leaks, households can reduce daily per capita water use by about 30% to about
51.9 gallons per day.
- Little leaks add up in a hurry. A faucet drip or invisible
toilet leak that totals only two tablespoons a minute comes to 15 gallons a day. That's
105 gallons a week and 5,460 wasted gallons of water a year.
- Check every faucet in the house. A single dripping faucet
can waste far more water in a single day than one person needs for drinking in an entire
week. Don't wait to fix a drip. Do it now!
- Here's a two-for-one idea if you have a fish tank in the
house. When you clean the tank, use the dirty water on your houseplants. It's rich, in
nitrogen and phosphorous, which gives you a nice fertilizer while you use the same water
- Check the water taps in your home to see if they all have
aerators or spray taps. An aerator mixes air with the water, which not only cuts the flow
but also reduces splashing. The spray tap is similar, but also can swing from side to side
like a tiny showerhead.
- Select the appropriate water level for the size of your load
of laundry. Most washers now offer preset water levels for small, medium, and large loads.
Use full loads whenever possible.
Conserving in the Bathroom
- The bathroom accounts for 75 percent of the water used
inside the home.
- Each toilet flush uses up to five gallons of water. An
average family of four uses 881 gallons of water per week just by flushing the toilet.
- If everyone in the United States flushed the toilet just one
less time per day, we could save a lakeful of water about a mile long, a mile wide, and
four feet deep every day.
- Some people thoughtlessly flush away tissues and other bits
of trash in the toilet. Using a wastebasket, instead, will save all those gallons of water
that otherwise go wastefully down the drain.
- Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day.
Identify leaks by adding food coloring in your toilet tank. If the color shows up in the
bowl without the toilet being flushed, you have a leak to repair.
- When remodeling your bathroom or building a new house,
consider some of the water saving toilets available:
conventional U.S. toilets use five gallons of water per flush
common low flush toilets use three and one half gallons per flush
ultra low volume toilets use one and one half gallons per flush
the air-assisted toilets uses one half gallon per flush (a
potential savings of 90 percent).
- An average bath requires 37 gallons of water. The average
shower takes about 20 gallons of water, around 40 gallons are used in 10 minutes. You
could save up to 27 percent more water by taking showers instead of baths. Test your
shower consumption by plugging the bathtub drain during your shower. When finished,
compare the water level to your typical bath water level.
- Have you ever heard of showering "The Navy Way"?
Because fresh water is relatively scarce on ships, sailors were taught to just get wet,
and then turn off the shower while soaping and scrubbing, and turn it on again briefly to
rinse off. It's a great water conservation technique.
- Increase your water savings further by installing low-flow
shower heads, toilet dams, or other devices designed to reduce the amount of water used in
a toilet, shower or sink.
- Any showerhead now manufactured in the United States is
required by law to release no more than 3.2 gallons of water per minute. Super low-flow
showerheads that deliver as little as 1.25 gallons per minute, cost anywhere from $5 to
- You use about 5 gallons of water if you leave the water
running while brushing your teeth.
- If someone in your family likes to shave with water running
in the basin, they probably use at least one gallon per minute, most of it wasted. A
stoppered basin needs one-half gallon or so of water for adequate razor rinsing.
Conserving in the Kitchen
- The kitchen is a great place to save water. Doing dishes by
hand can save twice the water used in a dishwasher. When washing dishes by hand, don't
leave the water running, plug the sink or use a portable dishpan.
- If using a dishpan for dishwashing, carefully carry the
water outside and dump it on your garden or lawn to give your lawn or garden an extra
drink (during the summer your plants will appreciate the effort).
- Fill your dishwasher full because it will use the same
amount of water for a normal cycle, whether it contains a full load of dishes or just a
few items. Also, there's really no need to fully wash dishes before loading in the
dishwasher. Just scrape off food scraps and rinse.
- When it comes time to buy new appliances, look for those
that are water-efficient and have settings for water-saving cycles.
- Use a little water and a lid on the pot when cooking most
food. This method uses less water and any left over water can be applied to your plants
(be sure to let it cool first).
- Instead of running the tap water to get a cold drink, keep a
container of drinking water in the refrigerator.
WATER CONSERVATION OUTDOORS
- If you have a lawn, chances are it's your biggest water
gobbler. Typically, at least 50% of water consumed by households is used outdoors.
- Do you wash your car at home? Please don't let the hose run.
Instead, wet the car thoroughly, then turn off the hose while you swab the car with soapy
water from a bucket. Use the hose again for a final rinse. A trigger nozzle is best
because it turns off automatically.
- Sweep outside with a broom, not the hose. Yes, it's lots
more fun using water, but just five minutes of hosing will waste, unnecessarily, some 25
gallons of water. Sweeping the sidewalk and driveway will get them clean enough.
- If you have a swimming pool, get a cover for it. Evaporation
can make hundreds, even thousands, of gallons of water disappear. An average-size pool
with average sun and wind exposure loses approximately 1,000 gallons of water per month,
enough to keep a family of four in drinking water for nearly a year and a half. A pool
cover cuts the loss by 90%.
- When you walk on your lawn, do you leave footprints behind?
That's a sign the grass needs water. It's too dry to spring back when you walk on it.
Another sign is grass that turns a dull grey-green color. Give that off-color grass a good
- Don't sprinkle grass lightly, deep-soak it. Light watering
can't get water down deep into the soil. The grass develops shallower roots and is both
less drought-resistant and more prone to winterkill.
- Don't water your lawn too much. An automatic system can be
preset, but a sprinkler on the end of a hose needs your personal attention. Buy timer
attachments that hook on between the faucet and hose, or set a kitchen timer to ring in 15
or 20 minutes to remind you to move the sprinkler to a new area.
- Grassy areas on sunny southern sides of buildings or on
slopes and areas near sidewalks and driveways need to be watered more often. Shady areas
and northern exposures need water less frequently.
- Adjust lawn watering to the weather. Following a heavy rain,
for instance, skip your regular watering day until the grass needs it again. Teach the
family how to turn off an automatic sprinkler system in case a storm comes up during the
- With or without an automatic sprinkler system, it is wise to
water during the evening or early morning hours. Water applied to a lawn during the
hottest part of the day tends to evaporate before it has time to soak into the roots of
- If you have an automatic sprinkler system, check the heads
periodically. Be sure they haven't shifted direction to spray water on the side of the
house, driveway, or sidewalk instead of the lawn.
- For any small area of grass, water by hand to avoid waste.
On steep slopes, try a soaker hose to help prevent wasteful runoff.
- Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. The grass blades
grow longer and shade one another, as well as the ground, helping fight off heat and hold
- Minimize grass areas in your yard, because less grass means
less water demand. Survey the lawn and consider whether it might make sense to remove
grass from areas that aren't used much. Replace it with low-water use landscaping.
- Try the concept of Xeriscape (pronounced Zer-i-scape),
which means "landscaping for water conservation." The idea is to use plants that
require less water. You also can decorate creatively with interesting objects that need no
water at all, such as rocks, bricks, benches, gravel, and deck areas.
- Mulch planting areas. Mulch covers open areas with tasteful
good looks, helps keep the ground from overheating, holds moisture that otherwise would
evaporate, and discourages weeds.
- Be careful! Water the landscape only, not streets, walks and
driveways. (We already have plenty of concrete and don't want to grow any more).