By: Kelsey Venekamp
World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd to help bring attention to a crisis faced by millions around the globe—limited access to fresh, clean water. This year’s theme ‘why wastewater’ emphasizes the significance of improving water quality by reducing the amount of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.
While water makes up more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh water, and less than 1 percent of that is fit for human consumption. According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 1 in every 8 people across the globe can’t access safe drinking water. Even by doing something seemingly conservative, such as taking a five-minute shower, you may be using more water than an impoverished person in a developing country gets access to in an entire day.
So today (March 23rd—I’m a day late, I know…), I’m celebrating World Water Day by sending the following message: Saving water doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive! Even if you are renting, you can start right now. Here are several ways you can cut back on water usage, protect one of our planet’s most vital resources, and maybe even save some cash in the process:
- Invest in water saving equipment. Low-flow shower heads, faucets, toilets and washing machines can be purchased at any plumbing aisle at a home-appliance store. And as an added bonus, many local water agencies offer rebates to significantly offset your initial expenses for efficient appliances!
- Check for leaks. Even small drips can waste nearly 20 gallons of water in a day. To check for leaks in your toilet, add a little food coloring to the tank. If color appears in the bowl within 30 minutes of adding the dye, this means there is a leak that should be repaired. Check your household water meter as well! If the meter reads differently within a two hours period where water isn’t being used, this could indicate a leak somewhere.
- Only wash full loads of dishes and laundry. It’s a waste of water if you run these appliances without filling them to full capacity. Most dishwasher detergent manufacturers also state on their products that there is no need to pre-rinse dishes before loading them in the washer, which is also a big way to cut down on wastewater!
- Cover your pool when not in use. This helps to keep the water from evaporating. If your pool automatically refills itself, also periodically check for leaks. Another way to conserve water is to only have pools, fountains and ponds that use recirculating pumps.
- Build a rain barrel. By collecting the runoff water from gutters and roofs, a rain barrel can hold between 50 to 80 gallons and can be used later for watering your garden and lawn.
- Turn off the tap. The average faucet releases two gallons of water per minute. You can save up to eight gallons of water every day by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth! That is, if you brush for the recommended two minutes, twice a day.
While water is considered a renewable resource, this doesn’t matter if water is being consumed faster than it can replenish itself. So the next time you turn on the tap, think of the water pouring out as liquid gold going down the drain. Because to someone, somewhere, it’s that precious.