Agency Encourages Water Conservation

Water usage has gained national attention with current flooding and drought conditions in over half of the United States. A precious resource, water is taken for granted until its availability becomes limited, and the growing demand for water and increasing population can create water shortages.

According to a Sept. 10 press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical family of four spends about $850 on water and sewer costs per year. That family can save $210 per year by changing over to water-efficient appliances and fixtures and by adopting other water saving practices.

"The average American uses a whopping 100 gallons of water per day, so making these few day-to-day sacrifices should not be a problem," said Donald S. Welsh, EPA regional administrator.

EPA offers these water conservation tips:

• Avoid using the garbage disposal. It uses approximately 11.5 gallons of water. Try composting organic wastes instead.

• Take short showers. Soap up and turn on the shower only to rinse off. A 10-minute continuous shower uses about 45 gallons of water.

• Use dishwashers and clothes washers only when fully loaded. A clothes washer uses about 50 gallons of water per load.

• Turn off faucets while brushing teeth and shaving. An open conventional faucet allows five gallons of water flow every two minutes. Instead of running water, clean razors in a small pool of water or a glass of water.

• Refrigerate a pitcher of water for drinking, instead of running the water until it gets cold.

• Repair leaky faucets, toilets, and pumps. A silent leak in a toilet can waste 500 gallons of water a day and cost $1,000 a year. A toilet built before 1982 is a candidate for replacement, saving upwards of 25,000 gallons per year for a family of four.

• Now is a good time to install low-flow faucets, showers, and toilets, if you don’t already have them. Conventional toilets use 3.5 to 5 gallons of water per flush, compared to low-flow toilets that use 1.6 gallons or less. Low-flow toilets save enough water to pay for themselves in about five years. Replacing an older washing machine with a new Energy Star machine will use 35-50 percent less water and 50 percent less energy per load.

• Replace a 4.5-gallon-per-minute showerhead with a 2.5-gallon-per-minute head. This can save a family of four 20,000 gallons of water a year. A three-member household can save a total of 54,000 gallons of water per year with low-flow plumbing, and save $60 per year on water bills.

• Use a toilet displacement device, such as a brick or plastic jug (with the top cut off) filled with pebbles. Place it in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush. Make sure it does not interfere with the flushing mechanisms or the water flow. More than a gallon of water can be saved per flush.

• Don’t use toilets as a waste basket.

• Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around pumps.

• When cleaning a fish tank, use the drained water on plants. The water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, a healthy treat for plants.

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