Fresh water is a limited resource and while 70% of the Earth is covered in water, only 2% of it is fresh water. As fresh water becomes scarcer, it will not only become more difficult to get fresh, clean water, but it will also become more expensive. Conserving water is a great way to reduce costs while doing something positive for the environment and future generations.
Why Water Conservation is Important
Fresh water is a limited resource in our world and with increased need from homes, business, and agriculture; droughts and water shortages are likely to become more frequent as we proceed into the future.
We do have vast amounts of salt water available in our oceans: however, it is not drinkable in its current form. Water desalination plants are an option for turning the oceans’ waters into potable water, but it is extremely costly and many areas (including inland areas and those with limited resources) do not have the option.
Water Conservation Information
Water conservation is done with several goals in mind:
- To preserve our water supplies for future generations
- To avoid the destruction of habitats and the wildlife that live there
- To reduce the need for energy used to move water and wastewater from one location to another
- To reduce the cost for individual households
To learn more about why we conserve water, visit:
- University of Florida article: UF/IFAS Study: Water Conservation Important to Many; Only Some Take Action
- USGS: The USGS Water Science School
- Mastering Minds: The Importance of Water Conservation
- Less than two percent of the earth’s water is fresh water.
- Less than one percent of the water on earth is safe for human consumption.
- Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water per day when at home.
- Between five and ten percent of American homes have water leaks that lose 90 or more gallons per day.
- Toilets take up about twenty percent of our daily water usage.
- Showers take about eighteen percent of our daily water usage.
- A bath requires approximately 35-40 gallons of water.
To learn more about the numbers behind the need for water conservation efforts, visit:
- Sunnyslope County Water District: Water Conservation Facts and Tips
- Drink Tap: Water Use Statistics
- Harwich Water Department: 55 Facts, Figures & Follies of Water Conservation
Saving Water and Money at Home
The simplest place to start conserving water is where many of us use it the most: at home. Small changes around the house can add up to significant reduction of water and wastewater bills, along with minimizing our impact on our limited water supplies and the environment as a whole.
To learn about what you can do, visit:
- PennState Extension: Household Water Conservation
- The Water Project: Water Conservation at Home
- San Francisco Water Power Sewer: Home Water Conservation Checklist
Water Saving Tips
- Avoid flushing the toilet when it is not necessary.
- Avoid using the toilet as a wastebasket. Put tissues, cigarettes and other items in the trash instead of in the toilet.
- Do not leave the water running while shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Check pipes, the toilet, and faucets for leaks!
- Switch to a water conserving showerhead.
- Install a low-flow faucet aerator.
- Take shorter showers.
- The next time you remodel, switch to a low-flush or dual-flush toilet.
- Only run the dishwasher when it is full.
- Fill a basin with soapy water for doing the dishes.
- Do not put water down the drain if it can be used elsewhere, such as for watering plants.
- Put drinking water in the refrigerator rather than running the tap each time you need a glass of water.
- Use a bowl of water to wash produce rather than running it under the tap.
- Add a low-flow faucet aerator.
- Check the sink and pipes for leaks.
- Laundry room:
- Only run the washing machine when it is full.
- Adjust the settings on the washing machine to accommodate for the proper load size.
- Check for leaks!
- Use a bucket of soap and water when washing the car.
- Use a broom to remove dirt from sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing them down.
- Harvest rainwater to use on landscaping.
- Water the lawn early in the morning or in the evening to prevent water loss due to evaporation.
- Consider landscaping that requires less or no water.
- Use a garden hose nozzle that has a shut-off valve.
- Check for leaks in water pipes.
- Position sprinklers so that they aim at vegetation and not pavement.
For more ideas, visit:
- State of Washington Department of Ecology: Water Conservation: It All Starts with You
- Grace Communications Foundation: Water Saving Tips: Around the House
- Maryland Department of the Environment: Tips for Inside the Home
- Energy.gov has a great resource for Landscaping Water Conservation.
- Water Use It Wisely offers 100 Ways to Conserve.
- National Geographic has an informative article on Water Conservation Tips.
- The University of Maine is also a helpful resource with their article on Conserving Water at Home.
Getting the Kids Involved
Your water conservation efforts will be more productive when you involve the kids! It is important to teach not just how to conserve water, but also why we are doing it. Kids can get involved by making colorful signs to remind family members to do things from the above list, such as turning off the faucet while tooth brushing. They can also learn about the fresh water resources of the planet by visiting fun educational games and resources online:
- Environmental Protection Agency: Flash Games
- Utah State University Extension: What Can I Do To Keep Lakes and Rivers Clean?
- Texas A&M Agrilife: Youth Water Resources
- National Ground Water Association: Groundwater Adventures
Links for Parents and Educators
You can also get involved in the kids’ water conservation education by following lessons plans and curriculums provided by universities and even NASA:
- National Environmental Services Center: Environmental Education
- NASA: Water Conservation
- Midwest Research Institute: Protecting Our Water Resources: Student Activities for the Classroom
- Texas A&M – Pre K – 2nd Grade Lesson Plan to Understand Causes of Water Pollution (PDF)
- VRG.org – Lesson Plan (grades 5 – 8): Water Conservation and Dietary Connections (PDF)
- Cal Poly – High School Curriculum of Water Conservation (PDF)
- Water Use it Wisely – Water Conservation Games for Kids
General Water Conservation Resources
There is always more to learn when it comes to saving one of our planet’s most valuable resources. Check out the following links to keep learning:
- The Mendocino County Resource Conservation district has great information and resources available on their page: Drought & Water Conservation Resources.
- The Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors Association offer a no-nonsense list at Water Conservation Facts.
- The Texas Water Development board offers a brochure on what you can do outside to save water: Water Conserving Tips.
- The Lake Champlain Committee offers advice on how to check for leaks on their page: Home Owners, Landlords, and Renters.