By Contributing Editor Clay Anderson
Why you should care and what you can do about it
Your water footprint is the measurement of your water consumption. This is determined by your direct use (shower length, lawn size, etc.) and your indirect use which is the water used in the supply chain of products you purchase. For example a pound of beef require 6000 gallons of water to produce, while a pound of wheat required 12 gallons of water to produce.
Here is a table which outlines common water usage statistics
Activity Requiring Water
Toilet Flushing 5 – 7 gallons
Shower (water running) 7 – 10 gallons per minute
Bath (Full tub) 36 – 50 gallons (conventional) 40 – 80 gallons(whirlpool)
Laundry Machine (full load) 60 gallons top loader 42 gallons top loader
Dishwasher 15 gallons normal load 7½ – 10 gallons normal load
Dish washing by hand 30 gallons tap running 10 – 20 gallons tap running
Shaving 20 gallons tap running
Brushing Teeth 10 gallons tap running
Washing Hands 2 gallons tap running
You can take some simple steps to have a dramatic decrease in your water footprint over a year. It’s important to keep in mind that you do not need to make radical steps, but instead can start by heightening your awareness and taking small steps.
Determine if you have any leaks. You can do this by either examining all of your faucets and plumbing or you can look at your meter when you believe you have turned off all of your water. By fixing a leak you can make the biggest difference over time in your water footprint.
Flush your toilet less often. If possible only flush when you need to and ask you family to consider flushing less often. The 5-7 gallons saved each time will add up over time.
Put a brick or plastic bottle filled with water into your toilet tank to lower the water required for each flush. If you can afford to install a low flush toilet, do so.
Use a low flow showerhead and consider a hot water saver showerhead if you tend to leave your shower running while waiting for the water to heat up.
Install low-flow aerators in your faucets to lower the flow of your home faucets.
If possible don’t take baths and consider taking shorter showers.
Don’t brush your teeth with the faucet running.
Use a rain barrel to capture run-off from your gutters, which can then be used to water your lawn or garden.
Try to only use your dishwasher and clothes washing machine with full loads.
For the Outdoors consider the following:
Ensure that your lawn sprinkler is a good fit for your lawn and waters evenly. Also, letting your grass grow taller helps with water retention in your lawn.
Water your lawn and yard as early in the day as possible. If possible install a drip-irrigation system.
Consider planting native and drought resistant plants to ensure that minimal water is required.