A typical American family uses more than 300 gallons of water daily, out of which about 70% is used indoors and the other 30% outdoors.
Water management is a significant topic in the United States. Given the ongoing extremity of droughts and water use restrictions, communities across the country are beginning to face water supply shortages. Two of America's largest reservoirs, Lake Mead (Nevada and Arizona) and Lake Powell (Utah and Arizona), which provide water and electricity to millions, are on the verge of becoming 'dead pools' due to the intensifying climate catastrophe and excessive water consumption.
Globally, the world consumes almost 4 trillion cubic meters of freshwater annually, and while the need for a larger potable water supply is rising, freshwater resources are quickly dwindling. The worsening imbalance between supply and consumption has made it imperative for us to start investing in water conservation measures. The most crucial step to save water is water scarcity awareness and changing our wasteful water consumption practices.
In this post, we'll discuss what is at risk if the world's water consumption habits remain the same and how you can prevent water scarcity crises by practicing water conservation at home.
Let's start with the facts.
A Brief Look into Water Scarcity Risks
- The WHO estimates that 844 million people lack even basic water sources, while 2.1 billion people (3 in 10) do not have access to a safe water supply. Around 263 million people travel for over 30 minutes per trip to access water outside of home, and 159 million people still consume untreated surface water.
- Contaminated water is responsible for taking a life every ten seconds. The number of fatalities in a year linked to water-borne diseases amounts to 3,575,000, of which 2.2 million are children.
- Achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 6 (ensure access to water and sanitation for all) to address the global water crisis is calculated to cost about $114 billion annually through 2030.
- With the world's population exploding rapidly and predicted to surpass 9 billion by 2050, two-thirds of the world's population could experience water shortages by 2025. Eventually, the lack of water for consumption, domestic chores, and agricultural activities may result in huge economic losses.
The statistics listed above are just a few of the dangers caused by our mindless water consumption habits. While water scarcity is more prevalent in underdeveloped and developing countries at present, developed countries will eventually experience the harsh realities of water shortages once the crisis reaches its breaking point.
According to the American Water Works Association, Americans waste around 2.1 trillion gallons of clean, treated water annually due to old, leaking pipes and damaged water mains. We may not be able to impact problems happening outside the US directly. Still, we can take immediate control over our household habits like excessive water usage and careless water management by educating ourselves and spreading awareness. Local water conservation practices can help our communities flourish, cut utility costs, and lessen the risk of water pollution in nearby water bodies. By conserving water, we can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to community water distribution and treatment.
Below are five ways to Save Water at Home
- Reduce shower time
An average shower that lasts four to five minutes causes a waste of 20 to 40 gallons of water. By reducing the shower time and turning the shower off between soaping up and rinsing, we can save a huge amount of water. A great option to pair with shorter shower time would also be installing low-flow showerheads. Low-flow is designed for saving water, allowing water usage under 2.5 gallons per minute.
- Skip doing laundry till next week
A permanent-press cycle requires around 5 gallons of water for the additional rinse. It is best to skip it unless you're dealing with a full load of laundry. While at it, replace your washer with a high-efficiency washer with high energy star ratings as they use 35–50% less water and 50–50% less energy each load.
- Fix Pipes & Faucets
Even a tiny trickle from a broken faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day and 3,000 gallons per year. Faucet leaks, indoor or outdoor, are tricky in the sense that not every leak is visible. The best way to detect a leak is to leave thoroughly dried tubs and sinks for about an hour and look for moisture. If you find moisture, that is a sign of leaks/ drips. You can use hose washers at spigots and hose couplings to stop the leakage and drippings or have a professional fix it.
- Give low flow toilet a try
Switch to water-efficient dual flush toilets. These low-flush toilets are designed to use less water for flushing. They use just 1.28 gallons or less per flush, which is almost 82% water-saving compared to regular flushing (7 gallons).
- Run the dishwasher only when it is full
A water-conserving dishwasher model uses half the water of traditional dishwashers and handwashing. According to the EPA, energy star qualified dishwashers can save approximately 5,000 gallons of water annually and reduce bills by $40 per year compared to handwashing. Avoid running the faucet while you're occupied with other chores to save water further during kitchen chores. If you must handwash for specific reasons, make sure to turn off the water while you prep (scraping and son on).
*Last but not least, always recycle water as much as possible.
Water conservation measures are one of the simplest strategies to save water at home. It may initially require time, effort, and investment, but it saves money and resources down the line and, most importantly, contributes to the greater good of water scarcity prevention.