Read any article on how to succeed with New Year’s resolutions and they’ll all tell you: be realistic, don’t focus on that pipe dream. But those of us in the water industry encourage you to include a “pipe dream” in your resolutions because, when it comes to water conservation efforts, pipes are a critical place to start!
The caution of pipe dreams in the traditional sense means to be wary of setting resolutions that are so overwhelming a person sets himself or herself up to fail before the clock strikes twelve on January 1st. In fact, when you consider what U.S. communities need to accomplish in terms of fixing and maintaining water pipes, well, that can seem quite overwhelming. According to WaterSense®:
• Ten percent of U.S. homes have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons of water every day.
• The leaks in an average U.S. household can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year.
• Nationwide, those household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water.
Moreover, when you look at household and non-household leaks combined, it’s estimated that aging and leaky pipes and infrastructure, broken water mains and faulty water metering systems lead to the loss of more than 2.1 trillion gallons of drinkable water every year in the U.S.
One of the top reasons New Year’s resolutions fail is because people try to go it alone. The good news is, when you resolve to do more about leaky pipes and water conservation you, instantly eliminate this barrier to success. You can peruse our Dr. Water archives for any number of blogs on how public and private sectors are working to fortify infrastructure, water companies are using new technology to detect and fix leaks, and businesses, industries and communities are mandating water-conservation practices. The USEPA “WaterSense” website (https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/) is also a useful resource. There you can find a wealth of information on water saving devices and water efficient practices. What all this information means is in fact you aren’t “going it alone” when it comes to water conservation.
Finally, even in your own household, you can create a formula for success by applying the theory of not doing it alone—and by “it” I mean everything from winterizing pipes and regularly checking for leaks, to investing in water-conserving appliances and being conscientious of the “foreign matter” you’re feeding pipes via toilets, garbage disposals or storm drains. Here are just a few ideas:
• Delegate. Give every member of your household responsibilities that can range from a pipe-checking schedule to reducing shower times.
• Set realistic goals for everyone. Let the adults handle pipe winterizing and task children with being the dripping faucet “police”.
• Remember that accountability breeds success. Have a group check-in so members of the household can report on where they are or are not meeting their responsibilities.
• Brainstorm. Once everyone gets into the swing of conservation, see what new ideas everyone can come up with to drive more progress.
• Measure and share results. Compare water bills and usage reports every month.
So, set your sights on your household pipe dreams and be motivating in knowing that by enhancing your water conservation efforts at home, work, or school, you contribute not just to your personal success, but to the success of our entire planet!