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Water Conservation Guide for Homeowners

Water Conservation Guide for Homeowners

Today, water conservation measures are among the topics at the helm of society. Water is life, and if this commodity isn't accessed adequately, then every other activity is a dry bone. It is at the core of our lives; water is the pillar that holds every step of our lives. Sadly, the earth’s sources of usable water are degrading, and if adequate measures are not put in place, clean water will perhaps be an issue of the past. Research indicates that below 1% of the earth's water is safe for domestic consumption. It's alarming if possible changes are not adopted, but the real deal starts at our homes. Even the least of measures taken is paramount to achieve this positive change. By employing water-wise programs at our homesteads, will significantly inspire and offer vital lessons that may help all realize the need to conserve water for better lives.

What is Water Conservation?

Water conservation refers to efficient usage of water to avoid wastage. It involves deliberate and careful preservation, control, and development of both the underground and the surface water resources. Water is an essential commodity for the nourishment of life, and therefore conservation includes the quantity and quality of the water utilized.

Conservation is critical to ensure enough and adequate water for today and future generations. Water is a finite resource, and its supply on our planet is the same today as it was at the beginning of our planet.

How Much Water is Wasted at Home?

It is estimated that one person on average uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water each day for indoor uses. The bulk water use goes to flushing toilets and baths or showers. Currently, we have toilets that use far less water than we used to have before.

One family can waste up to 180 gallons of water every week, which is enough to wash more than 300 loads of laundry. Similarly, it’s estimated that about 900 billion gallons of water are also wasted through leaks every year throughout the country, equivalent to the annual household water use of approximately 11 million homes.    

To understand water wasted at homes, consider the following scenarios:

  • If you can turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 8 gallons of water each day, and while you’re shaving, you could save as much as 10 gallons of water per shave. Therefore, if you brush your teeth twice a day and shave five times a week, you could save about 5,700 gallons annually.
  • If you let your faucet run for five minutes while you’re washing dishes, you can waste up to 10 gallons of water.
  • Running a dishwasher when it’s full can eliminate one load of dishes in a week and can save about 320 gallons of water every year.

Presently, most local governments have adopted laws that require toilets, faucets, and showers that allow a specific amount of water to flow per minute. Some agencies in certain States often offer rebates to anyone who installs a water-efficient toilet.

If you plan to install these water-efficient faucets, you will realize that they have a fitted measure of water that you are likely to use in a given time frame. For instance, an indication like “1.0gpm.” Such a faucet is built to allow only one gallon per minute.

Indoor Water Usage

a.) In the United States, home water use from the tap, for the lavatories, and washing the dishes is estimated to be about 138 gallons for a single household every day, translating to approximately 60 daily gallons per person each day.

Much of the indoor water use in American homes is highest in the bathrooms which account for 24% of the total water used indoors, equivalent to 33 gallons per day in each household.

The second highest is water use in showers and faucets, each accounting for 20% of the total indoor water use, translating to about 27 gallons per household each day.  

It is followed by washing machines that account for 16% of the total indoor water use translating to 22 gallons per household each day.

More surprising is that the water lost through leaks, which account for 13% of the total water used indoors, translates to about 18 gallons per household each day.

Dishwashers account for the least indoor water use and account for 2% of the total water use translating to about 2 gallons per household each day.

b.) Toilets are the leading water-consuming points in American homes and can play a leading role in water conservation. Americans, on average flush toilets about five times a day, accounting for 24% of daily water use. There are many ways to conserve water use in toilets, ranging from changing habits to mechanical adjustments and replacements.

You can also reduce water consumption by fixing leaks, shutting off faucets, and replacing your toilets with a more water-efficient toilet system such as the WaterSense label.

c.) Americans use about 27.4 billion gallons each day for domestic purposes. This water is drawn from both the surface and underground. The water reaches the residents in two significant ways: through a public water supply system, e.g., a community tank or a tower serving around 25 homes, or through a self-supply system. More than half of the American population relies on underground water mainly for domestic uses. for

On the other hand, public supplied water may come from natural surface sources such as lakes, rivers, and cisterns, while privately distributed water is withdrawn from underground water sources. States like Hawai'i, Mississippi, Iowa, and Nebraska rely mainly on underground water.

Outdoor Water Usage

a.) In America, a household uses an average of 320 gallons of water each day, with 30% going to outdoor uses. Gardens and lawns consume more than half of the outdoor water use. Across the country, landscape watering consumes almost a third of the total residential water consumption, estimating to 9 billion gallons each daily. Additionally, it’s estimated that as much as half of water used for irrigation is again lost in evaporation and runoffs due to ineffective systems and irrigation methods.

To conserve water, you don't have to water grass daily. If the grass springs back when you step on them, it doesn’t require watering. Similarly, you can save water by using native plants and creating water-smart landscapes. If each household having an irrigation system hired a certified professional to carry out regular maintenance, water usage could reduce by 15% or about 9,000 gallons each year.  

b.)  Plants always take water from the soil to keep them healthy and productive. At the same time, it loses water through the tiny openings known as stomata. Plants will wilt if they continue losing water without replenishing it from the soil. Total water requirement (Evapotranspiration) refers to the amount of water evaporated from the soil and the water lost from the plant (transpiration). Evapotranspiration is affected by several factors such as the temperature, the length of the day, winds, cloud cover, mulching, relative humidity, type of plants, size of the plants, and the number of plants.

c.) Water drawn for human use can reduce water in streams and lakes and can potentially affect the aquatic flora and fauna. In the US, household water use accounts for about 13% of the total water used in the country. Although outdoor water use is nonessential for daily functioning, it accounts for about 30-50% of residential water use, which is equivalent to more than 7billons gallons.

Outdoor water use has continued to put pressure on water supplies. Outdoor water use during summer always accounts for the largest portion of residential water use.

Importance of Water Conservation

Droughts In the US

The average temperatures have been increasing due to climate change, and similarly, the water cycle’s speed has risen due to the increasing rate of evaporation. As a result, more water is available for precipitation in the air. However, it also contributes to other areas becoming drier.    

The United States has experienced an increase in drought invasion from 1895-2015, with about 48 neighboring states facing this climatic wrath. Following the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • There has been a notable change in drought conditions since 1895, which became widely spread by the 1930s and 1950s. Since then, and for the next 50 years, the conditions have experienced precipitation above average.
  • From 2000 to 2015, about 20-70% of the United States experienced unusual dry seasons. From 2000 to 2003 and 2012 to 2013, extensive coverage faced an abnormal dry state with the conditions receding in 2001 to 2003 and 2009 -2011.
  • In the better half of 2012, more than half of the United States land coverage suffered mild or severe dry conditions. In some states, 2012 was the hardest hit year to be placed on records, especially for the southwest regions.

On the other hand, a report by NASA indicates that fifty-three million people reside in drought encroached zones in the U.S. Following a report published by the Drought Monitor, some parts of the land in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada are wallowing in drought. These areas have experienced low agricultural yield, diminishing pasture land, and water levels’ disappearance. Though characterized by severe wildfires, these areas indicated no draught signs in the summer of 2019. Recently the United States drought Multi-agency (NIDIS) pointed out that the desert encroach is rising.

Palmer Drought Severity Index indicates that several areas in the United States are in danger of desert invasion. Different states are experiencing different drought impacts, with some being hit hard on summer seasons.

On December 22, 2020, dry conditions covered a more significant part of the Great Plains. The most hit zones were the southwest: Central Rockies and well West Texas. Drought intensity was least in the south and North East. By the time of the last drought assessment in March 2021, the conditions had not changed significantly. Thus, the zones that depend on winter precipitation for household water are at risk. These dry climatic conditions are also likely to cause disastrous fires across the regions.

Why You Should Save Water?

Clean, freshwater, especially from underground, is undoubtedly a finite commodity. Of all the planet's water, only less than 1% can be consumed for domestic purposes. Water is a vital resource for our survival, and it's estimated that an average American household would take about 300 gallons, with a single person talking about 60 gallons. Sadly, as essential water is, its consumption surpasses production. New Mexico residents used between 50 and 250 billion gallons of fresh water daily household chores in 2010.

The effects of overusing water are far-reaching. Going to the future, generations to come may have little if none of the freshwaters to survive on. The cost of acquiring safe water will be unimaginable, and finally, its quality and availability are diminishing so fast.

What You Can Do to Save Water at Home

The States in the U.S that experience multiple drought seasons across the year survive by enormous water supply and water re-usage systems. Water supply agencies approximate that an average family in a state like Colorado consumes 0.4-0.5 acre-feet annually. That translates to approximately 150,000 gallons of water for both indoor and outdoor activities. Nevertheless, you can undertake the same activities on lesser amounts of water.

More than 55% of Colorado towns' domestic water is utilized in outdoor activities, mainly on lawns and gardens (170 gallons). Comparably, in most western towns, a household would use less than 150 gallons in a single day.

 

  1. The Bathroom

    a.) Water used in the bathroom and faucets is the second most significant portion of the total utilized indoor domestic water at 11.1 gallons or 19% of the total water used. Showers use about 15.8 gallons and take about 8 minutes, with the water flowing at a rate of 2.1 gallons in a minute.

    b.) Installing water-saving shower-heads is a sure deal to curb water wastage in the bathroom. For instance, all shower-heads certified by WaterSense are the most efficient and conserve water.

    In the U.S, the Bill on energy matters (E Act) dictates that all shower-heads manufactured must work within 2.5 gallons per minute flow rate. Previously, shower-heads could allow a flow above 5 gallons per minute. Additionally, these shower-heads feature a shower timer that's efficient and cuts down on energy bills.

    c.) You can also take into account the following tips to save household water:

    • Take a short time in the bathroom when taking a shower.

    • When soaping and shampooing, switch off the water flow button or turn off the tap to stop the water flow.

    • Most of the time, you'll have to wait for hot water to drip from the showerhead. Instead of letting the cold one pour off, try collecting it in a basin. It will be helpful on the lawns.

  2. Kitchen

    a). A lot of water is used in the kitchen. After eating, you must clean all dishes and cooking pans. Dishwashing alone takes up to 1% of an individual's daily water consumption. If you're using the older dishwasher, you'll likely use about 10-15 gallons of water for each load. ENERGY STAR-marked dishwashers are something different. Thanks to their Technological advancement, they consume less than 3.5 gallons in one cycle and save up to 4,000 gallons in their operational season. Additionally, these ENERGY STAR-certified kitchen machines consume less power than any other dishwasher. Currently, the equipment is sensor-fitted and effective. Thus, they can determine the span of the wash round and water temperatures ideal for the dishes.

    You may also want to check the following tips:

    • Don't run half-full dish loads
    • Pre-rinsing will only use more water, with the new models of dishwashers, once is enough.
    • Read the user manual keenly to understand the operations.
  3. Garden, Lawns, and Landscapes

    There are different styles and designs of irrigation. On a prolonged dry spell, sprinkling some water over your grass and crops remains the only option at hand. While irrigation is an effective measure to keep the ecosystem's cycle, the water wasted during the process can be controlled by:

    a.) Install an automatic sprinkler irrigation system. This system features a controller and a water shut-off tool—the controller times and controls the frequency that the whole irrigation system should run.

    b.) The irrigation shut-off device is a sensor that controls when the irrigation should commence and stop. For example, immediately after the rains, the soils are still moist, and water isn't much needed. The device controls unwanted irrigation.

    c.) When designing and locating your landscape, consider factors such as the climate and shade. A place with a wet climate is ideal for your garden. Additionally, healthy soils minimize runoffs and retain water that will be utilized for some time. Again you can mulch your crops to avoid excess evaporation of irrigated water.

    d.) Repair leaks, install upgraded and water-efficient sprinklers, plant hardy crops, place your seedlings on low depth and avoid waterlogging.

References

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Blount, S. (n.d.). Household Water Use. NEEF. https://www.neefusa.org/nature/water/household-water-use

Central New Mexico Community College. (n.d.). Why is it Important to Save Water? Retrieved April 6, 2021, from https://www.cnm.edu/about/sustainability/copy_of_water-in-the-desert-project/montoya-campus-conservation-guide-by-by-joshua-boruff-justine-pecos-and-andrea-preer.pdf

Climate Change Indicators: Drought. (2021, January 30). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-drought/

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EPA. (2020a, September 18). Start Saving. US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/start-saving

EPA. (2020b, October 22). Shower Better. US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/water-sense/shower-better/

Homewaterworks. (n.d.). Showers | Home Water Works. Retrieved April 5, 2021, from https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/showers

NASA. (2021, August 10). A Third of the U.S. Faces Drought. NASA Earth Observatory. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147118/a-third-of-the-us-faces-drought

NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System. (n.d.). Advancing Drought Science and Preparedness Across the Nation. Drought.Gov. Retrieved April 5, 2021, from https://www.drought.gov/

Outdoor Water Use. (2013, May). EPA. https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/www3/watersense/docs/factsheet_outdoor_water_use_508.pdf

Ready. (2021, February 22). Determining Water Needs. https://www.ready.gov/water

Statistics and Facts. (2021, March 18). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/statistics-and-facts

Stein, L., & Welsh, D. (n.d.). Efficient Use of Water in the Garden and Landscape - Earth-Kind® Landscaping Earth-Kind® Landscaping. Texas A&M Agri Life Extension. Retrieved April 5, 2021, from https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/drought/efficient-use-of-water-in-the-garden-and-landscape/

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USGS. (n.d.). Water Q&A: How much water do I use at home each day? Retrieved April 4, 2021, from https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-qa-how-much-water-do-i-use-home-each-day?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

Waskom, R., & Neibauer, M. (n.d.). Water Conservation In And Around Home. Colorado State University Extension. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/family-home-consumer/water-conservation-in-and-around-the-home-9-952/

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