Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Invisible water. Wait, what?

Its easy to disconnect ourselves, Living here in the United States, from the global water crisis.  Having an abundant water supply at our disposal for really any use has many blind to the fact that our water consumption is not only measured by what comes out of our tap in our home or from the water cooler at the office.  The same clean water we drink is processed and used for many purposes.  Washing cars, clothes, watering our lawns and filling the backyard swimming pool is all done with clean, processed water that we pay relatively little to receive.  We do this on a whim, without the thought process many throughout the world go through when considering how much water they can use in a single day without running out.

The average U.S. resident will use 151 gallons of clean water per day.  Compare this with the average water use in most African countries: less than 15 gallons per day.  Those numbers point out a disparaging difference in what must be our views of conservation.  Sure certain countries have less clean water available, but most are more conscious of their consumption in order to prolong the availability.

The majority of Americans do not even realize that their daily water use [drinking, cleaning & washing] is only a small part of the water they use each day.  Most of the water we use is invisible to us.  Its in the food we eat, the pop and soft drinks we drink and in the clothes we wear. Water is used in the generating of electricity we use to power the computer used to read this message right now.  Even the gasoline and diesel we burn in our cars and trucks has been produced with the help of water. This way of consuming water is invisible to most because it is not seen directly with our own eyes.  The water I use could be from as far away as Australia, South America or China.  Sources as close to my home state of Minnesota such as Wisconsin or California provide me with the benefit of water everyday and I never see it, nor do most.

But there isn't an easy way to see the connection between my consumption and the water problems that have been hitting headlines.  One way to make that connection in your own life is to monitor your water consumption daily for a week.  Its easy and you'll probably learn a thing or two on how you could live as well with less.  

Take five minutes each day and write down events such as showers, baths or clothes/dishes washing.  If you look closely each of your faucets will tell you how much water is coming out of them when in use.  Check the round thing on the spout of the faucet, its called an aerator. It'll likely say something like 1.6 gpm.  This means that for every minute the faucet is running it is spouting out 1.6 gallons per minute (gpm).  The toilet, where an amazing amount is used each day, says it on the bowl portion near the hinge of the seat.  Thankfully the majority of toilets only use 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush) whereas older toilets could consume as much as 3-6 gpf! Oh, if you have one of those...get it changed asap!

After a few days of writing this info down you can get a pretty good idea of how much water you are using on average.  Take the total gallons you estimated and add them all together, then divide that total by how many days you recorded this info to get the average used per day.  The number will surprise you, be sure of this.  Consider taking this test on days when you are doing laundry and when everyone in the home is, in fact, home as usual.  

I've been performing this service I have described here [called water auditing] for a couple of years now.  The numbers don't lie and they have begun to amaze me less and less.  We are all conditioned to think that water is and always will be here and available.  That may not be true, most likely isn't.

If you would like information on what you can do to change the amount of water you use please give me a call or email.  There are dozens of easy to do, often on your own if you're even the least bit handy, that are inexpensive and will have you feeling better everyday about your simple efforts and how it will make a positive impact on our precious resource. 

No comments:

Post a Comment