July 23, 2014
How To Improve Water Efficiency And Curtail Water Use
This summer, I traveled all over the West. I experienced many states that are currently facing very serious water issues: California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Visiting with locals of these areas lead to many discussions about the concerns and issues they see with water availability or, more accurately, lack of availability. The seriousness of the water issues is palpable. Water availability is quickly becoming one of the most urgent issues for much of the United States, as well as other countries across the world.
Recently, Indiana University Bloomington released information about an article concerning simple water conservation tips in order to help people understand their roles in water usage and availability. The article, “The Water Short List: The Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can take to Curb Water Use,” was written by Shahzeen Z. Attari, an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington, and Benjamin D. Inskeep, an energy policy analyst with the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University.
Attari and Inskeep provide potential areas of savings and conservation of indoor and outdoor water use. They focus on two areas: curtailing unnecessary water use and improving efficiency of water use through one-time upgrades of household technology. According to the IU article,
“Households can reduce indoor water consumption by 30 percent, they say, by implementing curtailment actions such as reducing toilet flushes by a quarter, only washing full loads of clothes and taking shorter showers.
Outdoor water use can be reduced or nearly eliminated by watering turf grass less often, using a rain barrel or other rain-harvesting system, watering all plants in the morning, replacing cool-season grass with warm-season grass that requires less watering, and installing drip irrigation systems.”
They also discuss common misconceptions about water conservation. For instance, one commonly held belief about water conservation is to wash your face or brush your teeth in the shower. While this may (or may not) save time, showerheads use far more water than the typical faucet in a bathroom sink. Therefore, these two are actually water-use misconceptions. The article written by Attari and Inskeep addresses several of these as well as gives several tips to help all Americans conserve water. The ultimate focus is the rising concern of water availability and helping all Americans take a role in conserving water and using it more wisely.
As many states and countries see a time of great drought, water conservation becomes more important and more likely to be on the forefront of our minds. I live in Oklahoma, land of the Dust Bowl, land of regular drought. Water conservation and use are always on the minds of Okies like myself. We are highly aware of our water: how we use it, where it comes from, and how much we have (or don’t have as often is the case). That does not mean that Okies do not waste water because I am sure many of us do. What it does mean is that water use and conservation are a part of my regular life. Perhaps what Attari and Inskeep hope to do with their article is to provide simple guidelines for all of us in order to help us all to think about water availability particularly in terms of our own water use and conservation.
For more on their article, see the current issue of the journal Environment.
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