We have a global shortage of drinking water, and the shortage is increasing rapidly. Many people are dying from a lack of drinkable water or from contaminated water. Globally, we have built dams to increase the availability of water for urban use, but we may have already built too many. We have changed the amount and nature of water reaching our oceans, reducing nutrient-rich sediment for the oceans to foster life. Our inefficient use of water is reducing the amount of water available in underground water tables at an alarming rate, ensuring that, on our present course, much less drinkable water will be available for our children's generation.
Outdoor Use of Water
Water conservation is a critical need globally. Water from roofs should be diverted to containers so that it can be used as needed when it is not raining. Water from monsoons, in areas of the world where monsoons occur, should be diverted to lakes, perhaps even man-made lakes, to make the water available during drought or dry seasons.
In the United States, almost half of water is for outside use, such as the yard or gardening. Much of this could be greatly reduced by diverting downspouts to allow rain water to flow into the yard and garden instead of into the streets or sewer drains. Even more water could be saved by building containers for the water that flows from the downspouts and then using the water as needed. Still more water can be conserved by directing sink, tub, and clothes washer water into a container that can then be used for caring for the yard. By redirecting water from downspouts and "grey water" used for washing, we can help avoid the overflow of sewage pipes into our rivers, especially during heavy rains. We can reduce the need for dams. We can reduce the cost of water and sewage.
Water for the yard can also be conserved by watering only during the cool of the day (to limit evaporation) and limiting the use to no more than one inch per time and only once per week. When washing your car, use a bucket and sponge when washing and use a shut-off nozzle on the hose when rinsing.
Globally, cities need to stop using our rivers as sewer pipes to the ocean. We need to divert sewage to where it can be useful, rather than pollute our water supplies. We need to ensure that garbage dumps are not placed in locations that will allow seepage into our water tables.
Indoors, the biggest wasters of water are the toilet and the clothes washer. Standard toilets are responsible for over 25% of our indoor water use. A standard toilet flushes 5 gallons of water, yet researchers have found that only 1.6 gallons are necessary. Placing a plastic container in the water tank of the toilet can reduce the waste of water greatly. (Containers are available, such as the "toilet tummy," or other plastic containers can be filled with water and used.) Other ways to conserve water use indoors are to use energy efficient shower heads, use flow restrictors on faucets, and systematically find and stop leaks in faucets and toilets. Find more on this topic at water conservation.
© 2010 EDI
and Dr. R. Jerry Adams
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