Facts About Water Usage
Water conservation plays a key role in protecting our public drinking water systems. Water is an essential part of our daily lives and is necessary for many activities, including agriculture, energy generation and industry, as well as in a wide variety of other activities. But do we really understand how much we use? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a typical household uses between 400-700 gallons of water every day.
In 1900, each of the six million people then living in Pennsylvania used about five gallons of water per day. Since then, the population has doubled to over 12 million people and water consumption has increased to an average of 62 gallons per day. Part of this 900 percent increase in water use is due to the many modern water-using conveniences, such as automatic dishwashers, clothes washers, garbage disposals, and home water treatment systems. A significant change in water use also occurred when the bathroom was moved indoors.
None of us would probably want to go back to the time when we used only five gallons per day. However, we should be aware of how we use our water and how we can use it more wisely.
Water also plays a big role in communities. Firefighting, municipal parks and public swimming pools also require a reliable water supply. Pipes, pumping stations, and other infrastructure systems are needed to bring a reliable supply of water into our homes and businesses.
One way to understand water use is to review our water bills. Don't focus only on the amount due, but also on the quantity of water that was consumed. We can learn much from this: Does our water use increase during certain times of the year, like during the summer? How does it compare with what our neighbors use? Once we begin to understand how much water we are using, we can begin to determine how much water, energy and money we could be saving if we used water more efficiently.
Excessive consumption of water can lead to strains on water supplies and aging water treatment systems. This may lead to a variety of consequences for communities, such as higher water prices, increased summer watering restrictions to manage shortages, seasonal loss of recreational areas at lakes and rivers, and expensive water treatment projects to transport and store fresh water when local demand exceeds available capacity. When we are more efficient with water use, we help to ensure reliable water supplies for the future.
How Can We Use Water More Wisely?
Large water users can benefit from conducting a "Water Audit" following guidelines prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Water Use Planning. This Water Audit can guide large water consumers in estimating the water and energy savings that can be realized as a result of installing low flow plumbing fixtures and reducing potable water consumption.