4 Simple Ways to Save Water
California has seen a warm and dry winter, which has many residents worried that the state may be headed into yet another drought. Although Californians successfully cut their water use by 25 percent in 2015 and 2016, some places have already gone back to their normal pre-drought water consumption. But California isn’t the only place facing water issues.
Residents in Cape Town, the second largest city in South Africa, are going through a water crisis so dire that the government estimates it will have to cut delivery of tap water to homes and businesses this June. The city’s residents are currently restricted to using just 13 gallons of water each day, which is less water than is needed to have an eight-minute shower! The average American home (with three people per household) uses more than 10 times that much water a day (138 gallons).
Water conservation is an issue regardless of where you live. In 40 out of 50 U.S. states, water managers expect to see water shortage impacts in the next 10 years.
There are many things you can do to save water. Here are the top four:
1. Water-smart Landscaping
Lawns and landscaping are among the biggest demands for water in our homes. To save water, consider replacing thirsty lawns with drought-friendly plants. The Environmental Protection Agency has a planting guide that shows native, water-smart plants based on where you live. Garden mulches help reduce water loss from the soil, and drip irrigation can provide water exactly where you need it.
2. Replace Your Showerhead
You may not have thought about replacing your showerhead: it’s there, it works, who cares? But showering uses 20 percent (28 gallons a day) of the water in your home so updating your showerhead is an easy way to reduce your consumption every day. Check out this short video for tips on how to change a showerhead.
Chances are your shower uses about two to three gallons per minute, but updated showerheads use about 1.25 gallons per minute and cost as little as $12 to $20. Saving hot water will also save you money on your heating bill!
3. Check for Leaks
The average home wastes 17 gallons a day on leaky plumbing. You can check your toilet for leaks by adding a drop of food coloring to your toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. Toilet leaks can typically be fixed by replacing old rubber flappers at the hardware store. If you live in a house, check your water meter before and after a couple hours of not using water. If the meter reads differently, you likely have a leak. These leaks waste money and can damage property. Consider contacting a plumbing professional if you suspect a leak. If you rent, report it to your landlord.
4. Eat Less Meat
Most of the water we consume every day is hidden in the food we eat.
Unless you raise animals, you might not realize how much water is needed to grow animal feed for producing meat and dairy. It takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef, compared to just 200 gallons to make the same amount of pasta and 500 gallons to make one pound of nutrient-packed garbanzo beans. Reducing food waste is an important part of the solution. Changing your diet to include more grains and vegetables and less water-intensive beef can also make a big impact.
If you’re interested in other ways you can conserve water in your home, check out the resources in PlanetVision’s Water Action Guide. And ask me any questions you have about water use at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Emily Cassidy is Sustainability Science Manager at the California Academy of Sciences.