According to the U.S. EPA, summer most American households use 2-4 times more water than during other seasons of the year. That equates to up to 3,000 gallons of water per family per day during the warmer summer months. Unfortunately, with warmer weather and the “euphoria” that is summer fun, many people don’t realize just how much water they are using—and, sadly how much they are wasting—until it’s too late.
Compounding the summer water “morning-after” effect is the impact that increased water use has on aging water infrastructure, community water supplies and the environment. For example, how many wading pools are being filled and refilled, or the throngs of people enjoying a day at the lake who are less than careful when disposing of trash. Every one of us can help combat the problems by taking steps that aren’t only easy, but that can save time, save money on water bills and protect our water resources.
A key is knowing the summer water pitfalls and simply avoiding them, including:
- Automatic sprinklers: Sprinklers don’t account for rain, cooler temperatures and less evaporation and therefore can lead to over-watering. Get to know your plants and water only as needed. If you must use sprinklers, do a test run to make sure water is hitting the plants, not the pavement.
- Watering when it’s hot: Water early in the morning or in the evening when the sun is low to avoid water waste through evaporation. Avoid watering in windy conditions and make sure to water the roots, not the leaves.
- Keeping lawns trimmed too short: The best way to avoid grass burnout, insects, disease and water waste is to raise the blade on lawnmowers to between 2.5-3.5 inches.
- Believing that plants thrive with lots of water: Many popular summer flowers are drought-friendly and can be damaged by excessive watering.
- Underutilizing rain water: From watering vegetation, to filling wading pools and washing cars, rainwater captured in rain barrels can be used safely for more applications than you may think.
- Forgetting to check for leaks: Summer heat and dryness can be quite damaging. Do periodic checks of hoses and pipes to make sure there are no leaks and check hose connections at the faucet.
- Hosing down: Summer sand and dirt can just as easily be brushed off of sidewalks, shoes, beach toys and even people, rather than being hosed down.
- Keeping water sources clean: Having fun near or on the water? Be sure to pick up any trash you make or find, then dispose of it properly.
- Fertilizers: Avoid overuse of fertilizers and pesticides and use non-chemical alternatives for both.
This summer, be proactive in using water responsibly!