Water Action

Its summer again, and in addition to the joyful vacations and outdoor activities, summer brings with it a great strain on the world’s water supply. While we enjoy these leisurely months, we should bear in mind our responsibility to sensibly use our water. Here is a list of some easy steps to reduce your impact on our precious H2O.  For more on protecting your water, see our “Tips for Saving Your Water: Do’s and Don’ts around the Home”
 
1. No drips 
A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water a day. A leaking toilet can use 90,000 gallons of water in a month. Get out the wrench and change the washers on your sinks and showers, or get new washerless faucets. Keeping your existing equipment well maintained is probably the easiest and cheapest way to start saving water.
 
2. Install new fixtures
New, low-volume or dual flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, water-efficient dishwashers and clothes washing machines can all save a great deal of water and money. Aerators on your faucets and water-saving showerheads can significantly reduce water volume. Low-flow showerheads and faucets are estimated to save 45 gallons per day. Low flush toilets can save 50-80 gallons of water a day. Together, those changes nearly cut in half the household’s daily use, saving a considerable amount of water and money.
 
3. Cultivate good water habits 
All the water that goes down the drain, clean or dirty, ends up mixing with raw sewage, getting contaminated, and meeting the same fate. Try to stay aware of this precious resource disappearing and turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving and always wash laundry and dishes with full loads. When washing dishes by hand, fill up the sink and turn off the water. Take shorter showers. To put things in perspective, take a quick look at your next water bill when it arrives. It probably won’t be costing you too much, but the average household consumes multiple thousands of gallons each month. See if you can make this number go down.
 
4. Stay off the bottle 
By many measures, bottled water is a scam. In most first-world countries, the tap water is provided by a government utility and is tested regularly. (You can look up your water in the National Tap Water Quality Database) A four-year study of bottled water in the U.S. conducted by NRDC found that one-fifth of the 103 water products tested contained synthetic organic chemicals such as the neurotoxin xylene and the possible carcinogen and neurotoxin styrene. Much bottled water doesn’t come from a “Artesian springs” and is just tap water anyhow. (Coca-Cola adds salt to its Dasani water to make it taste better, just like fast food.) Not only is it more expensive per gallon than gasoline, bottled water incurs a huge carbon footprint from its transportation, and the discarded bottles are a blight. If you want to carry your water with you, get a bottle and fill it. If your water at home tastes funny, try an activated charcoal or ceramic filter.  (Stay tuned for more on this topic around Sukkos this year.)
 
5. Go beyond the lawn 
Naturalize it using locally appropriate plants that are hardy and don’t need a lot of water. If you have to water, do it during the coolest part of the day or at night to minimize evaporation. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping that utilizes only native and low water plants. It is an especially appropriate approach for states where water is scarce.
 
6. Harvest your rainwater 
Put a rain barrel on your downspouts and use this water for irrigation. Rain cisterns come in all shapes and sizes ranging from larger underground systems to smaller, freestanding ones. Some even glow!
 
7. Harvest your greywater
Water that has been used at least once but is still clean enough for other jobs is called greywater. Water from sinks, showers, dishwashers, and clothes washers are the most common household examples. (Toilet water is often called “blackwater” and needs a different level of treatment before it can be reused.) Greywater can be recycled with practical plumbing systems like the Aqus, or with simple practices such as emptying the fish tank in the garden instead of the sink. The bottom line? One way or another, avoid putting water down the drain when you can use it for something else.
 
8. At the car wash
Car washes are often more efficient than home washing and treat their water rather than letting it straight into the sewer system. But check to make sure that they clean and recycle the water. Better yet, try the waterless car wash.
 
9. Keep your eyes open 
Report broken pipes, open hydrants, and excessive waste.  Mention leaks to your friends and family members, too. They might have tuned out the dripping sound a long time ago.
 
10. Don’t spike the punch 
Water sources have to be protected. In many closed loop systems like those in cities around the Great Lakes, wastewater is returned to the Lake that fresh water comes out of. Don’t pour chemicals down drains, or flush drugs down toilets; it could come back in diluted form in your water.

 
For information about the importance of saving water, please visit Canfei Nesharim’s Environmental Science page.

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