Friday, April 23, 2010

Water Takes Energy

Today is water day during No Impact Week. Because I live in Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes yadayadayada), I often hear people saying water is not really our problem.

But check out this short Q&A with Peter Gleick, a water usage expert, in which he points out that it takes energy to treat and move water -- such as the water I drink every day, which comes from the mighty Mississippi. So even if the water is in ample supply, it doesn't magically appear in your tap. Someone burned coal or split some atoms to make it available to you.

I've been doing some things to conserve water. No low-flow toilets, but I've got a gallon milk jug taking up space in the tanks. No running the water while brushing teeth at our house. Short showers, alternating with sponge baths. We recently had the Home Energy Squad in, and they replaced all our faucets and shower heads with low-flow models. I've gotten rid of our lawn almost completely, and have tried to replace it with plants that don't need much water beyond our admittedly irregular rainfall. I've got a couple of rain barrels, too.

H2O Conserve logoI used the calculator, which I thought was pretty well-designed -- the questions were set up fairly logically and therefore possible to figure out an answer that's probably pretty accurate about my behavior. (As opposed to the calcuator on, which asked questions in ways that made no sense to me and therefore arrived at a usage number that may or may not have had anything to do with reality.)

Here's my score from

Score result sayign I use 886 gallons per day compared to 1190 for the average American

Isn't that incredible -- each member of my family uses 886 gallons of water a day. This includes an estimate of the water used to produce the food we eat (meat eaters require the most water, ovo-lacto vegetarians less and vegans the least).

Here are a few tips from that site that I'm considering doing:

  • Putting a bucket in the shower and the sink where the clothes washer empties to catch "gray water" to use on the garden.
  • Keeping water used to boil pasta or other foods to water the garden.
  • Replacing toilets with low flow or dual flush models. Low flow models save 2.5 gallons per flush.
The site also reminded me that a dripping faucet uses about 20 gallons of water a day! So it's really worth it to get those fixed right away when they develop.

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