How to Save America from a Future that Lacks Water

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – September 24, 2014 – Comment

According to an article in Environment Magazine, climate variability, an outdated water infrastructure, an expanding population in water-scarce regions, and economic growth are the culprits of our nation’s foreseen water availability issues. A recent analysis of water availability in the 225 largest cities in the U.S. states that 54 percent of the population lives in cities that have vulnerable water supplies. Many water companies are already taking action and investing in new technologies that will help meet public demands, but American households can take action as well.

Many households wish to conserve water but lack the knowledge, time and resources. We’ve all seen a number of long lists of water-saving tips that leave us unsure which actions are actually making an impact. Well, I’m going to share with you a short list of the most effective water-saving tips by researchers Gardner and Stern.

Besides replacing your toilet, clothes washer, shower head, faucet and dishwasher with WaterSense– or Energy Star-labeled products, here are several ways to save water during everyday indoor household activities:

  • Reduce daily household toilet flushes by an average of 3.3 fewer flushes per day by following the adage “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”
  • Only wash a full load of clothes, or adjust the water level to match the load size.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Reduce the amount of time the faucet is left running by two minutes per person per day.
  • Stop using the food disposal in your sink – compost or trash food scraps instead.
  • Wash dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of by hand.
  • Do not pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • When taking a bath, only fill the tub halfway.

You can save water during outdoor household activities, too! Here’s how:

  • Water plants and turf grass with water collected from the rain.
  • Replace outdoor turf and plants with water-wise landscaping, such as native plants, and only irrigate when needed.
  • Replace cool-season turf grass with a warm season, native or low-water-use species of turf grass.
  • Install a soil moisture sensor.
  • Install a drip irrigation system for non-turf grass plants.
  • Install a rain sensor.
  • Water all plants in the morning.
  • Manually water turf grass with a hose.
  • Program an automatic irrigation system through evapotranspiration.

And lastly, during both indoor and outdoor activities, be aware of leaks!

At least we know that water-saving methods are available, and that the water industry is taking action. If U.S. households join in, we can change expectations and create a future that does not lack water.