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Conserve Our Water Resources

January/February 2007

Linda Sekura

Less than 1 percent of the world’s water is available for human use. The rest is mostly in our salty oceans (97.5% of it), with much of the remaining 2.5% locked up in glaciers and icecaps (the largest being Greenland and Antarctica), or beyond our reach underground.

This limited-water situation has worked adequately for humans, and just fine for lucky Ohioans living so close to the Great Lakes - the largest surface area of freshwater in the world. But the Earth’s population has grown to over 6 billion, and water demand has increased 6-fold between 1900 and 1995. Competition for this vital resource has resulted in:

  • Over 1 billion people worldwide without access to clean drinking water
  • The Pentagon predicting conflict in areas where resources are limited, including water
  • Large corporations such as Coca Cola buying water tables, sometimes leaving farmers high and dry
  • A legal battle between the U.S. and Mexico over diverted Colorado River water
  • Water flowing in the Colorado, Nile, Yellow, Ganges, Rio Grande and many other rivers rarely flowing all the way to the oceans and gulfs, due to the amount of diversions

There has been much talk recently about climate change, as there should be. We might survive with climate change, although not well. But all living creatures need water for basic survival, and the growing water crisis is cause for equal concern. We all know to reduce our energy use, and should be doing the same with water.

According to the EPA, the average U.S. family of four uses 400 gallons of water daily, with about 70% of it used indoors, and mostly in the bathroom. Your toilet alone may account for about 30% of usage.

Some easy tips include (from “wateruseitwisely.com”):

  • Take showers for 5 minutes or less, not baths. This saves up to 800 gallons/month.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 4 gallons/minute.
  • When shaving, fill the sink versus letting the water run.
  • When you are washing your hands, don’t run the water while you lather.
  • Save over 50 gallons/week by turning the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair.
  • Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks.
  • More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when necessary.
  • If your shower can fill a 1-gallon bucket in under 20 seconds, replace it with a low-flow showerhead. They can save over 500 gallons a week.
  • Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak. It's easy to fix, and you can save more than 600 gallons a month.

Visit this EPA website to find more tips on how to save water: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/index.htm. On this site, you can also find the EPA’s WaterSense labeling program for water-efficient products, similar to EnergyStar labels on products that are energy efficient. Some products that may be evaluated are: bathroom faucets, toilets, laundries, soil moisture sensors, and more.

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