Water Efficiency

Fact! Buildings use 14% of all the potable water available. This doesn’t sound very alarming until you add the fact that the world’s potable water is on a rapid decline. Hold on while we ride a cascade of statistics; 97% of the earth’s water is contained in its’ oceans-which has a high saline content and therefore unusable for consumption by humans, animals & plants. The remaining 3% is fresh water, of which two thirds (2/3) is locked in ice, leaving less than 1% of the earth’s fresh water available for human consumption. Breaking this down further, of the 1% of the earth’s fresh water,  two thirds (2/3) is used to grow our food, leaving one third (1/3) of 1% of all the world’s water is available for human consumption. Not all fresh water is deemed Potable-approved for human consumption, yet according to EPA statistics on average Americans flush more than 4.8 billion gallons of potable water down the toilet a day. From this perspective, 14% means something.

What does it mean for this declining resource as the world’s population grows by 83 million people each year?                                               

What does it mean for this declining resource as industries continue to pollute the fresh water supply?

More on Water, go to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/04/table-of-contents/

What can YOU do?

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!

REDUCE water usage, especially potable water usage; it’s critical.   The EPAct of 1992, in an effort to conserve water, stipulated a reduction in water usage in toilets &  faucets. Low flow faucets & toilets are now standard in the building industry.  This is an important first step.  Here are some water reduction practices anyone can put into place:

  • install low flow faucets, showerheads & toilets
  • upgrade to small on-demand water heating units at sinks & showers 
  • upgrade to energy star appliances; these appliances also conserve water
  • fix leaky plumbing fixtures & fittings; often it’s as simple as a 3 cent washer 
  • install drip or spot irriagtion for exterior landscaping
  • use native or drought tolerant plants in your landscaping
  • reduce the area of water loving lawns or replace it with grasses native to your area
  • THINK CONSERVATION!  Every drop saved helps!

Changing attitudes & habits requires education and a bit of determination!  Here are more FUN FACTS & TIPS: (once loaded, move the scroll bar to activate page)

www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/Water/55%20Facts,%20Figures,%20and%20Follies%20of%20Water%20Conservation.PDF

REUSE water where is is safe to do. Potable Water is vital for Life! Obviously we can no longer flush it down the toilet!  Here’s where REUSE comes into play.   Before sending water out to be treated, use it again! And again, if possible. It is easy to provide holding tanks that collect water from shower, tubs, sink & washers to then be used to flush toilets. Collecting and filtering rain water can be used to water lawns, gardens and wash cars,…to name a few.

RECYCLE the REUSED water and reuse it again!  Innovation in design has introduces ways to recycle gray, waste, process & storm water (see definitions below) for reuse; to water lawns & gardens, wash cars,…to name a very few.  Water filtering and purification systems are being developed for Commercial use.  These can be adapted for Residential use, but may require special permits & operating procedure-check with local authorities. Strategies designed to slow run-off from storms to recharge aquifers such as rain gardens, wetlands &  bioswales, can be utilized to purify water as it slowly filters through gravel, sand and plants, stored in catchment systems for watering lawns & gardens; excess water from the overflow of catchment chamber will filter back to aquifers.  As technology develops, it seems plausible that closed loop water recycling systems will become standard practice. 

Definitions of Water and its Uses-

Potable Water: water that meets or exceeds the EPA’s quality standard and is approved for human consumption by State & Local authorities.

Waste Water: spent or used water from homes, farms, community or industry which contains undissolved or suspended matter. 

Gray Water: domestic waste water from sinks, tubs, showers & clothes washers; water that has NEVER come in contact with toilets & urinals.  The definition is not consistent across the board and requires some research to understand the limits and restrictions in each jurisdiction.  

Black Water:  waste water from toilets & urinals; sometime from kitchen sinks-check the local Code in your jurisdiction.

Process Water: water used for industrial purposes: boilers, chillers, cooling towers.

Storm Water: runoff water from rain events that flows over surfaces (roof & pavement), usually into stormwater sewers or natural waterways.

Change Happens; it begins with Awareness, followed by Action & it will require each of us doing our part. So begin Now!

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