In many places, demand for water exceeds supply. Approximately 97% of the world's water is salty and undrinkable; 3% of the water is freshwater, but 2% of all the water is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. 73% of freshwater use (80%+ in the U.S.) is agricultural, 21% is industrial, and 6% is domestic.
On irrigated land in California,
- one ton of corn uses 200 gallons of H2O,
- one ton of rice requires 4,000,000 gallons of water,
- one ton of grain-fed meat requires 1,000,000-2,000,000 gallons of water.
- One ton of steel requires 60,000 gallons of water.
For domestic use,
- flush toilet use 40% of water,
- bathroom sinks and showers use 30%,
- laundry uses 15%,
- kitchens use 10%, and
- outside spigots use 5%.
Taking the steps to save water could save over 75 m^3 of a lake per year, enough water for 800 showers or a cost of $1,500.
- The average African family uses 5 gallons of water every day;
- the average American family uses 552 gallons every day.
In Your Home
- Instead of filling up the bathtub with water and bathing, you can take short showers and/or bathe with a person in your family. The other choice is to fill a bucket with water and take bath using any can and pouring it on the body. Also, if you have some extra water, save it for some other person to use.
- Take mainly cold showers if you are healthy or if you want to boost up your immune system and save energy and water at the same time.
- Do not leave the water taps on if not in use and turn off the taps properly because one drop of water per second would waste 2,700 gallons (10,220 L) of water per year, and can cost $405.00! Leaky faucets and taps can add to your hot water bill; so, repair them as soon as possible. The constant drip wastes water, energy and money. You can also save by installing an inexpensive "flow control" device in shower heads and faucets.
- The water heater is the second largest energy consumer in the home and using it efficiently can add up to big savings. For families with an automatic dishwasher, the hot water heater setting can safely be lowered to 130-140 degrees. If the automatic dishwasher has a water temperature booster, the water heater temperature can be set to 110-120 degrees. If your house will be vacant for two or more days, you can lower the temperature of your water heater even more until you return. If you have a new water heater, drain a few gallons from your tank every six months to remove sediment that accumulates and reduces the heater's efficiency. If you only use your hot water once or twice a day, you may consider installing a timer on your hot water heater and set it up to run two hours in the morning and the evening. Wrapping a fibre glass blanket around your water heater and securing it with duct tape, or installing a ready-made insulation kit can save up to 10% on water heating costs. Most new water heaters are already insulated, so this tip is most effective for heaters that are more than five years old. Also, insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss as the hot water is flowing to your faucets.
- It pays to operate appliances that use hot water wisely. Running the clothes washer with a full load and using cold water whenever possible can lead to big energy savings. Hang dry your laundry rather than putting it in the dryer and put them outside on a clothesline mostly at summer, when its hotter. Hang drying will also make your clothes last much longer. Use detergents that clean clothes effectively in cold water.
- Use dishwashers instead of washing dishes by hand. Washing dishes by hand may not save energy or money. In fact, you can probably save energy using the dishwasher since hand-washing usually requires more hot water. When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for models that require less hot water. Dishwashers differ in the number of gallons of hot water used in the wash cycle. 80% of the energy used in automatic dishwashers goes toward heating water. Significant savings take place by running the dishwasher only when it is full. Running a half-filled dishwasher twice uses two times as much energy as running a full load once. Many new dishwashers have an internal water heater that raises the temperature of the incoming water to 140 degrees. This device allows you to turn down the temperature on the water heater in your home and still have your dishes washed thoroughly. Take advantage of the energy saving control on many dishwashers. It turns off the heat during the drying cycle. Opening the dishwasher after the rinse cycle and letting the dishes air dry is another way to save energy.
- Wash dishes with cold water by hand in case you have a poor performing dishwasher or in case you have no dishwasher. The best technique to wash the dishes by hand is to rinse dirty dishes at the beginning very short with cold water, then clean with brush and soap without having water running at the same time and rinse them at the end all together at the same time. Leave them to dry and if you have cold hands you might warm them up very shortly once you finished.
- Saving water also means not polluting it: using soap pollutes less than a shower gel. For the dish washing, try to wipe off the greasy pans with flour or paper to use less detergent. But dont forget that paper production also uses alot of water so consider using only recycled paper.
- Replace your hose-and-bucket wash with a "waterless" car wash product found online and in some natural stores. The average home car wash uses between 80-150 gallons of water and sends soapy, toxic runoff to rivers and streams, and can cost between $12-$22.50.
- Recycle recycling certain things can help save water, because it takes water to make things
- Save the cold water while waiting for the sink to heat up fill a jug with cold water and use it for cleaning or watering your grass or plants, saving enough water in the house to replace 15% (3/20) of water could save 9,000 gallons of H2O in just one year, enough water to fill 63/4,750 olympic sized swimming pools, 3,960,000 btus of energy, $1,350.00.
- Fix leaky faucets: fixing one faucet, could save over 120 gallons of H2O each month, enough water to fill 21/118,750 olympic sized swimming pools, $18.
- Turn the water off while scrubbing the dishes: turning off the water while scrubbing could save up to 19 gallons of water every day, And enough water to fill 7/250,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, 8,360 btus of energy, $2.85.
- Switch to powdered laundry detergent switching to powdered laundry detergent could save 11/4 gallons of water per year, 1,210 btus of energy.
- Tap it out:Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving can save 2 gallons of water, 880 btus of energy, 30¢!
- Cook pasta in a frying pan. Don't boil it in a pot; simply put a pasta in a frying pan, fill the pan with enough water to cover all the pasta and set on the burner. You'll save a lot of time, water, and energy and you'll have a nice thick water base left over to use for sauces.
In Your Garden
Really great post on Water-Smart Gardening from www.ecoSherpa.com
"Mulch - I decided to lay down straw on my vegetable bed this year to help reduce water-loss via evaporation. You do need to be a little careful when using a carbon-rich mulch like straw (wood chips etc) however since it can lead to loss of nitrogen from the soil (microbes breaking down the straw take up the N to help maintain C:N balance).
I decided to use slow release fertilizer sticks to help ensure the plants have a constant supply of N (and P). In future years I would love to use strictly organic methods, but unfortunately my soil is just not rich enough yet. If you ARE going to use inorganic fertilizer I highly recommend taking the slow-release route.
Targeted Watering - Using a watering can, and pouring water under each plant (vs general watering of beds) can save a lot of water. To further prevent excess run-off, I like to water 2 or 3 plants at a time. I’ll start with the first, counting off 3-5 seconds as I pour, then move to the next and so on. This allows the water to percolate down, making it much more likely that it will reach the roots where it is needed.
Depending on how serious you are (about water conservation, and about your veggie garden in general), you may even want to set up some sort of slow-release system, either in the form of a drip-line, or slow release reservoirs.
As mentioned not too long ago, the latest Mother Earth News has some great info on the subject. In the article “Wise Watering”, one method the author suggests is creating slow-release water bottles by punching small holes in the bottom, placing them near your plants then filling them up with water. I think this is a great idea.
Here’s a related idea that popped into my head recently: if you happen to have 2 litre pop bottles, why not make a series of punctures or slits then bury in the ground with only the lid showing (could easily be hidden from view with mulch). To water, simply open the lid and pour water down into the bottle.
Rain Barrels - I highly recommend using at least one rain barrel to capture run-off from your roof during summer showers. I’ve been absolutely loving my rain barrel this year, and actually really want to create a multi-barrel system. One of my dreams in the past has been to create a huge underground cistern for rainwater, but I think I’ll need to wait until I get a country property before it makes sense to do that.
Sadly, I just used up the last of my rain barrel water the other day. Things have been utterly desert-like as of late! Speaking of which, if you do only have one barrel I would recommend trying to use as much of it as possible between rainfalls. I’m always frustrated when I’ve been extra-conservative with the b system in your home, why not capture excess water from rinsing dishes, washing fruit/vegetables, showers etc etc. (I’ll be talking a lot more about this in our first newsletter). It’s amazing how quickly this adds up. Of course, I’d recommend you keep the soapy water in it’s own container since it’s probably not the greatest water for your edibles - you can however use this for your shrubs and other ornamentals.
Timing - Another way to help reduce the amount of evaporation is to water your plants either earlier or later in the day, when the sun is lower and temperatures are cooler. Early morning is your best bet since this provides your plants with a nice dose of water for their most active hours, and also reduces the chances of diseases developing (watering at dusk is not as ideal for this reason). I’m far from perfect myself, so my timing is not always the best. Now that the weather is really heating up however, I think I’ll be working a little harder to ensure I time my waterings a little better." Turn off the sprinkler during the hottest part of the day when water evaporates