Imagining a Day Without Water
By Kenneth Enlow, Tampa Bay Water Project Manager, Veolia Water
Water, so essential to our existence, is not an inexhaustible resource, and we need to act decisively to develop a sustainable water infrastructure. The first step begins with education.
Veolia Water, contracted by Tampa Bay Water to operate and maintain a treatment facility serving over 2.5 million people throughout the region, is taking part today in Imagine a Day Without Water, an annual national event sponsored by the U.S. Water Alliance.
The event provides a unique platform for increasing awareness about the importance of water sustainability and conservation by asking all of us to consider the many ways in which we take water for granted. In the U.S., the typical adult consumes anywhere from 80 to 100 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. From the moment we wake up to the moment we lay down to sleep, most of us will have consumed water in dozens of ways.
Some of our main water-consuming activities include:
• Taking a bath, which requires about 36 gallons of water. In general, it’s better to take a shower, which averages about two gallons per minute using most modern showerheads.
• Brushing your teeth, which uses about one gallon per minute. It’s best to turn off the water while brushing and then turning it back on to rinse.
• Washing your face or hands, which uses about one gallon. To conserve, you should shut off the water before reaching for a towel to dry. Or whenever possible, wash with cold water before waiting for the water to turn hot.
• Shaving, which uses about one gallon. You can shut the water off while you’re shaving and then turn it back on to rinse.
• Running the dishwasher, which consumes anywhere from six to 16 gallons per cycle. Investing in an EnergyStar appliance can help save water, and monthly costs.
• Washing dishes by hand, which can use as much as 27 gallons or more if you leave the water on while drying or if you are slow in cleaning. Try filling the sink up with soapy water, thoroughly scraping your plates and letting them sit in the water for a few minutes before rinsing.
• Using the washing machine, which typically use 25 gallons per load. Again, over the long haul you can save water and money by investing in an EnergyStar appliance.
• Flushing the toilet, which uses up to three gallons. Closing off leaks in the toilet can help, but it’s even better to invest in a low-flow toilet that reduces consumption by about half.
In many parts of the world, it’s become common to make difficult choices about using a limited supply of water on a daily basis. If we fail to invest in existing infrastructures and resources, it’s not inconceivable that those living in developed countries like the U.S. will be forced to make similar choices in the not-too-distant future.
I hope everyone will take a minute to think about the choices they make each day about water.