I waste water. I admit it, I love a nice long leisurely shower. And based on what I learned while being a municipal public works employee, it’s about one of the worst things I can do to the environment. Saving water should be on the top of everyone’s list. Let me explain why:
In the next twenty years, water shortage (along with and related to global warming) is going to be one of the greatest threats to mankind’s survival since reality TV, combo meals, and texting while driving.
Water shortages can grow exponentially. This has much to do with the way potable drinking water is delivered to your humble abode. I hate to say it, but most people have do not have a clue how that water got in their flue. Let’s just say that every gallon of water you use increases your carbon footprint – massively. Let me explain how:
First, you have to get the water to the water treatment plant so you dig a well, divert a river, desalinate the briny blue ocean, or dam up something and create a reservoir. And how do we build things in America, with big, really big construction equipment. The thing about those great big yellow diggers and bulldozers is that they use lots and lots of diesel fuel. Of course, burning diesel fuel creates carbon dioxide, soot, and, well you get the picture.
Also, when you diverted or dammed the river, you probably flooded and killed who knows how many trees and plants that would have otherwise transformed carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Drilling wells presents its own challenges. An underground reservoir (an aquifer) has a fixed recharge rate which often depends on rainfall. So you had better not suck it out faster than it dripped in. And of course, maybe your fracking buddies with the funky pipeline might turn your well into a Bunsen burner.
After treating the water, it has to get to your house. That involves miles and miles of very high pressure pipelines with lots of electric pumps. The greater the demand for water, the more the very large, very powerful, very hungry electric pumps kick-in. And how do we make our kilowatts in the U.S.? The table below shows the various methods of electrical power generation by percentage:
Natural Gas 25%
Other Renewable 5%
Other Gases < 1%
Therefore, 68% of electrical power generation in America involves burning fossil fuels which increases our carbon footprint. Because providing you with clean water uses so much electricity, you can see that opening the tap creates more global warming crap. How can you save water? Try these water saving tips:
Get a low flow toilet:
According to the Federal Energy Management Program, a 1.6 gpf low flow toilet will reduce water usage from 27,300 gallons to 12,500 gallons per person annually.
When they first appeared in 1994, low flow toilets often clogged and required double flushing. Thankfully this is no longer the case! Redesigned, modern low flow toilets work quite well and can save you a lot of money too!
Repair leaky faucets:
One leaky faucet can waste 35 gallons per year. Imagine the cumulative water wasting if only half of the homes in America had just one leaky faucet!
Insulate your water pipes:
Dislike cold showers? Most of us waste water waiting for the hot water to reach the showerhead. Insulating your hot water pipes will save water, gas, and prevent your pipes from freezing.
Take a sailor’s shower:
Did you know that if you reduce your shower time by just 1-2 minutes you can save up to 700 gallons per month? Adding a low flow showerhead to the mix can save up to 800 gallons of water per month.
(Note: I still take long showers but I save water by taking a “sailors shower”. That is, I rinse and then turn off the water. Soap up completely, then rinse again, turn off the water, and so on!)
Use energy star approved appliances:
Look for the energy star label when you purchase a dish or clothes washer. You may also qualify for a rebate from your local utility company.
Don’t water your lawn during the day:
Water your lawn early in the morning to avoid excessive evaporation. (Early morning watering will help prevent grass diseases as well.) Also, avoid frequent waterings. You’ll find that occasional deep waterings build healthier roots and save water.
Test your garden sprinklers. Don’t water the sidewalk, (don’t be a gutter flooder!):
Leaky irrigation systems, overwatering, broken or incorrectly aimed sprinklers can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
Plant a drought garden:
If you live in a hot dry climate, plants which require lots of water are ill-advised. Instead, consider landscaping with drought tolerant xeriscapic plants. They not only require very little water, but they are colorful and disease resistant. Add a “drip-watering” system to your garden for even more water savings.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to plant my drought garden!
“How Saving Water Helps Reduce Global Warming” originally appeared in “The Hypo Critic Oaf”, a humorous recurring article by the “The Environmentally Friendly Shoppe”. The Hypo Critic Oaf points out that even so-called environmental experts can do a better job of safeguarding our environment.