In the days of drought conditions in nearly a third the US, and bottles of clean water selling for upwards of $2.50 or more, it is amazing how much waste we see around us every day of this precious resource. Yet most Americans seem oblivious to the growing scarcity of potable water and the kinds of challenges and problems that will cause in the future. As a result, we see blatant wasting of the resource all the time and wonder, “when will these people wake up?”
It’s analogous to the idiot who drives the giant Hummer SUV with its 12 mile per gallon fuel economy. Gas is cheap, gas is plentiful, so why care how much we use? It wasn’t until gas prices rose above $4.00 per gallon that the sales of the big SUV’s slowed down and the owners of those behemoths started to feel the pinch.
So here are my top water wasting pet peeves. There are countless other ways to save water, but these stand out as being exceptionally wasteful.
Sprinklers in the Rain
It’s one thing to use thousands of gallons of purified fresh drinking water to water parched lawns and keep landscaping alive, but quite another to have the automatic sprinklers come on whether needed or not. We have all seen those lawns being doused with tap water while the rain pours down, but no one takes action to fix the problem. A simple rain gauge on that system costing less than $30 would prevent the sprinklers from coming on when it is or raining or has rained in the past 24-48 hours.
Not only will the device save the property owner countless dollar over time, but the action will help preserve an important natural resource.
Watching the Water Run.
In our health club I see this all the time. The guys are shaving at sinks lined up along the mirrors using hot water from taps running full blast. Every 10-15 seconds the razor is dipped in the running stream for a quick rinse before it returns to the face of the user. Meanwhile, 90% of the water is being wasted down the drain.
I’m not necessarily advocating that the user stopper the sink and rinse the razor in the pooled water (heaven forbid!), I just want to see the guy turn on the water as needed to rinse his razor. Instead of using 3-4 gallons to shave his face, he might use only 1/2 a gallon of water this is not only of drinking quality, but has also has the added cost of being heated to 115 degrees.
And those of you who brush their teeth with the same basic technique, please take note!
Using Bottled Water to Flush Toilets
Okay, so it’s not coming from a bottle, but many municipalities deliver drinking water that meets purity standards suitable for bottled water. At considerable expense, it has been collected, transported, sterilized, stored and then delivered to residences and commercial buildings to… flush toilets! Doesn’t that seem ludicrous in these days of increasingly scarce potable water?
This one’s a little more complicated. We can all start by not flushing the toilet every time we drop in a Kleenex, and we can wait for a few “#1 uses” before flushing (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”).
Some communities are now requiring new homes and businesses to be plumbed so that toilets can flush with harvested water – from rainwater or from “gently used” water captured from showers and sinks – known as greywater or graywater. It’s more costly to add the extra plumbing, but the investment pays out many times over the life of the building.