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Water footprints in a drought

Water footprints in a drought
U.S. citizens use a lot of water. Recycling can reduce water use. Water efficiency makes economic and environmental sense.

The availability of water, now and in the future, should be a concern for everyone. In most areas of the country and most of the time, water has been readily available. That situation is changing. There are constantly new demands on our water supply, especially here in Texas as our population continues to grow.

With drought, issues about water supplies and conservation become very relevant.  Do you know how much water you consume for everyday tasks? Here are some real eye-opening statistics that water experts have developed that show “water footprints” for single individuals.  Most all daily activities can be traced back to water.

Here are some everyday water use facts:

        - 1 bath uses 70 gallons, while a 5-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons.

        - 1 dripping faucet wastes 20 gallons per day.

        - Watering the average size lawn can use 750 gallons assuming it takes 0.5 gallons to irrigate a single square foot of grass.

        - 1 toilet flush can use from 1.6 to 5 gallons.

        - 1 swimming pool will hold about 19,000 gallons on average, and if left uncovered, pool water can evaporate at a rate of 1,000 gallons a month.

If we take another approach and look at our virtual water use, the numbers can be alarming.  For example, the water footprint for a pound of plastic is 24 gallons, so the average bottled water uses three-to-five times as much water as it contains.  It takes 30 gallons of water to make one beer.  One tank of gasoline (18 gallon) will require 18 to 45 gallons of water, since it takes 1 to 2.5 gallons of water to refine a single gallon of gasoline. 

It’s easy to see how important water is in our daily activities, and in times of drought, we all need to do our part and conserve.

Here are some ways to reduce our water footprints:

        - If you choose to wait for your shower water to heat, place a bucket in the shower to catch the water and use it later for watering plants or cleaning.

        - Cut water use in half by hand-watering your lawn or garden instead of using sprinklers, or use a drip irrigation system instead of a hose or sprinkler

        - Fix leaky toilets and sinks. A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons a day.

        - If building a new home or changing the plumbing in your current one, install a gray water system, which allows you to reuse the water from your non-kitchen sinks, laundry machine, and dishwasher for watering plants and flushing toilets. Follow local and state gray water system regulations.

        - Recycling one plastic bottle and one newspaper saves more than 5 gallons of water.

So when it comes to using water, how do we in the U.S. compare to other countries?  Not so well. In China, one person uses 184,920 gallons per year; in Japan one person uses 303,798 gallons, and in the United States we use an estimated 660,430 gallons per person per year.

With recent long-range weather outlooks suggesting that this drought could last several more months, we all need to do our part now and start conserving water.  Conserving water also conserves other resources—energy and money. It costs money to pump water and make it available in our homes, for irrigation, and for business and industrial uses. 

By becoming more aware of water use habits—both old and new—we can reduce water use (consumption), eliminate waste, and save energy and money.  For more information about drought management and water conservation visit this web site;


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