Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Why saving water matters
First, it’s a question of increasing demand and decreasing supply. Fresh water is actually a pretty scarce resource - only 1% of the water on earth is drinkable. The global population is growing, and that means we need more water for irrigation to feed everyone, and water to drink and bathe in.
Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when fresh water from rain, glaciers, snow melt, etc, is in decline due to climate change. Climate shifts move water patterns - it may create flooding in rivers and coastlines, and drought in inland areas, drying up seas - and often this means water isn't available where people actually need to use it.
Second, it’s a question of energy usage: moving water, cleaning it, processing it takes a huge amount of energy. In California, 19% of energy consumption is used to move water - for example, down from the Sierras, up and over the mountains, into the LA basin. Any reduction in water use means a reduction in electricity for moving and treating water!
Finally, humans can’t take all the water for their own uses - dams, flow controls, diversion - these shift plant and animal ecosystems, further upsetting the delicate balance on the planet.
Can you have an impact as an individual?
Absolutely. The average American uses 100 gallons of water PER DAY, mostly on toilet flushing and bathing. Shorter showers, low flow toilets, alternative habits can easily cut daily water use in half.
What would it look like to go from 100 gallons to 50 gallons per day?
It's really not hard to cut your water use in half. See vidoes and tips for habit changes here.
Here's one way you could go to 25 gallons from 100, and then bank your other 25 daily gallons for a deep, long hot bath, laundry, plants- and still have cut your use by 50%. It just takes some thought.
Sample corrected daily allotment:
• 12 gallons for a shower (6 minutes at 2 gpm).
• 1 gallon for drinking. 1 gallon for washing up.
• 9 gallons for flushing. (6x on a 1.5 gallon flush)
• 1 gallon for cooking. • 2 gallons for dishes- a wash pan and a rinse pan
Total: 25 gallons.
To understand more about water issues, here's a 45 minute documentary program, World without Water, that talks about the risks and issues.