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Op-Ed: Pour some sense into your water usage

Author Brenda Reyes-Tomassini is the public affairs official for the U.S. EPA's Region 2 office in Puerto Rico.

Author Brenda Reyes-Tomassini is the public affairs official for the U.S. EPA’s Region 2 office in Puerto Rico.

Did you know that if you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth you could save up to three gallons of water? Did you know that leaks can waste the average household 10,000 gallons of water per year?

With the recent announcement by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority of water rationing due to severe drought conditions in some areas of Puerto Rico, preserving water is more important each day.

A recent federal government survey reports that 40 out of 50 states in mainland USA are anticipating local, regional or statewide water shortages in the near future. Last January, the governor of California declared a state of emergency due to the severe drought affecting the region.

Climate change, sedimentation and increasing demands on aquifers further worsen water reservoirs. While earth is made up of 70 percent water, fresh water is a finite resource as it only comprises 1.5 percent of all the water available for human consumption.

Inefficient water use is also contributing to the strain on water supplies, as many consumers waste water every day. The average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. According to data by the American Water Works Association, most the water used in our homes — 26.7 percent — goes to flushing our toilets. However, if the toilet has a leak, it can run higher. Most leaky toilets can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day, or the equivalent of 50 flushes. An energy and water efficient clothes washer can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per year than an older model.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program was launched in 2006 to help alleviate the strain on water resources. It is a voluntary effort to reduce indoor and outdoor water use while conserving water for future generations.

WaterSense helps people save water with a product label — just like the Energy Star label. Products bearing the WaterSense logo have been independently certified to perform well. WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent, third–party testing and certification, and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance.

The WaterSense program is available for regular consumers, government entities, trade organizations, nonprofits and industries, as well. With more than 1,500 partners across the United States, WaterSense provides tools to educate about water conservation and promote water saving strategies.

A regular or older model toilet can use three to five gallons per flush while a WaterSense labeled toilet uses 1.2 gallons. Replacing old, inefficient faucets and aerators with WaterSense labeled models can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year, equal to the amount of water needed to take 40 showers.

WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories that use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute can reduce a sink’s water flow by 30 percent or more from the standard flow of 2.2 gallons per minute without sacrificing performance.

Almost 50 percent of all water use in a household happens in the bathroom. Water use in the shower accounts for 16.8 percent of all use. Standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Older models can use up to 4 gallons per minute. Water–saving showerheads that earn the WaterSense label must demonstrate that they use no more than 2.0 gpm. By installing WaterSense labeled showerheads 5 to 20 gallons of water (depending on the showerhead) could be saved on a 10 minute shower.

Don’t forget your water use outside. Clean your driveway and sidewalk with a broom — never with a hose, unless necessary. Washing your car or hosing your driveway can use up to 165 gallons of water per 15 minutes. If planting, plan ahead for a water efficient landscaping. In Puerto Rico many native plant species hold well in the dry season.

By practicing efficient water use and substituting old faucets, sinks, toilets and appliances you are not only saving money but conserving precious water resources for future generations. For more information, please visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/

Author Details
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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

1 Comment

  1. FishyLuv June 1, 2015

    According to their own numbers, over 60% of the water produced by AAA is lost before it reaches the consumer due to leaks in our outdated and crumbling water infrastructure. Start there before you start blaming consumers, climate change, or anything else.


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