Fresh Water Conservation Trends and Tips to Save Water

In the past century water policies relied on the construction of massive dams and pipelines. While investment in these facilities can increase the freshwater supply and provide water for billions of people the construction of dams have serious social, economical, and ecological costs. Some implications of the use of dams are modification of the water quality, increased waterborne parasitic diseases, and reduction of fish yields downstream. Another issue is that people need to be replaced, to build new dams. Also dams are build where animal used to live and trees used to thrive. Dams could fail which may result in flooding and destruction of property and people. “More than half of the world's large rivers are fragmented and regulated by dams, including all the largest and the most biologically diverse rivers,” according to new research from the University of Umea in Sweden and the Nature Conservancy in the United States. Many water problems occur with the development of dams, and present approaches may not be sufficient in the future.

One way to save our fresh water is the utilization of rainwater harvesting. Water harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater that falls on our property and storing it in water tanks for future use. We can use rainwater to irrigate flowers, trees, lawns and other landscaping. Also rainwater could be used by people that like to wash their cars in their yards. People can substantially lower their water bills, and at the same time help reduce local flooding by introducing rainwater harvesting in their homes. In urban areas harvested rainwater can provide supplemental water and be used for flushing toilets and washing laundry. It can also be used for showering or bathing. However, it may require treatment before using it for drinking. Various methods may be used for retaining rainwater for future use. One common method sends the initial water flow to waste. The first few gallons are thrown away to ensure that the dust and other deposits on the collecting surface as well as any initial airborne pollutants from the sky do not end up in the water tank. According to Freerain, “a typical household can expect to save around 50% of their main water needs” by using rainwater harvesting system. While, the system requires an initial investment, it will save you money in the long run.

There are many ways that we can cut the use of water at our homes. Never wash your car. Do not shave. Do not wash your clothes. Do not shower. If you see somebody else wasting water, defend your positions even if you need to get into a fight. Is that really what we are asking from you? No. We are not asking for a radical change in your life. We cannot completely cut our consumption of water. We are asking that you make some small changes in your water usage and educate friends and family on how to save water. Those small steps would let us enjoy good quality freshwater in the future.

Below you would see tips on how we can make a difference. Some of the following are tips for bathroom use. Install a low-flow showerhead that limits the flow from the shower to less than three gallons per minute. Take short showers and turn the water off while washing and back on again only to rinse. Refrain from taking a bath. When remodeling a bathroom or building a house, install new 1.5 gallon toilet tanks. Also stones or other items can be placed in bigger toilet tanks to replace excessive water that is used for each flush. Test toilets for leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank and watch to see if the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes. Refrain from using the toilet to dispose of cleansing tissues or other trash. This wastes water and places burden on the sewage treatment plant. When brushing teeth, we should turn the water off until it is time to rinse. If we don’t feel like turning the water on and off, we could keep a cup in the bathroom and feel it up with just the amount of water we need to rinse our mouth and our brush. Do not let the water run when washing hands. A cutoff valve may be installed at the end of the faucet or other devices that allow you to turn the water on and off with ease.

The valve above can easily be turned on and off with small sideways or up and down moves of the outside of our hands. This way once we get our hands in soap, we don’t have to reach back and grab the valves installed in most of our homes. When shaving, if you don’t feel like turning on and off the water all the time, fill the sink with some water and use it to rinse instead of letting the water run continuously. Grow beard on the weekends or when you are off work.

Some of the following are tips for outside water usage. Feel the soil or use a soil moisture meter to determine when to water. Do not over-water. Soil can hold only so much moisture, and the rest is waste of your time, money and water. Water slowly for better absorption, and never water on windy days. Water lawns early in the morning during the hotter summer months or use drip irrigation systems. These will help avoid evaporation.. Don’t water the streets, walkways or driveways. They don’t really grow anything. Use a broom. Do not over-fertilize or cut lawns too short. Otherwise your vegetation will be less tolerant to drought. Learn what types of vegetation thrive on their own in your environment and plant accordingly. Consider decorating some areas of the lawn with wood chips and gravel, or other materials that require no water. When washing the car, use a sponge and a bucket of water and turn on the hose only for rinsing or go to car wash places where high pressure water and recycled water is used. When changing oil of your car never pour the old oil will get into underground water, and one day you may be drinking poisoned water.

How much water do we waste to wait for the warm water to come when we wash dishes and when we take a shower? Daniel shared that, in Bulgaria, people place their water heater in their bathrooms, so you get hot water immediately without waiting and in some homes people install additional small 2-gallon heaters above kitchen sinks that provide for the hot water needed in the kitchen. Thus, people save both water and energy.

Some of the following are tips that could be used in the kitchen. Use a container of water for washing and rinsing pots, pans, dishes, vegetables and other cooking implements, rather than turning on the water faucet each time a rinse is needed. Don’t run the dishwasher without a full load. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running water from the tap until it is cool. Always think of other ways to save water. Think for other small steps that you can take to save water such as saving from not making too much coffee or not poring too much water in your cup that you will not drink and throw away.

Some of the following are tips for appliances and plumbing. Whenever possible, use the lowest water-level setting on the washing machine for light or partial loads. Check water requirements of various models and brands when considering purchasing any new appliances. Check all water-line connections and faucets for leaks. A slow drip can waste more than 150 gallons of water per day, or over 50,000 gallons per year. It will add to the water bill and hit your wallet. Check for leakages regularly. A good start is to turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and appliances that use water, and if your water meter continues to run for the next 10 minutes, you have a leak.

Being cheap is not always the right choice. We often pay low price today to pay high price tomorrow. One question that we should probably ask ourselves is would we rather get the cheapest washer and drier today or should we pay a more for it today look three a few years from now when we would have saved the extra amount that we spent for the washer by cutting our total water usage with better efficiency. Below is a chart showing a comparison on water consumption based on modern and old appliances and faucets.

With avg. water costs of $0.002 per gallon and wastewater costs of $0.0024, a family of four could save 36,500 gallons or $160 per year. Would we spend a few more bucks for more efficient devices and enjoy the same standard that we have today or would we waste fresh water today and reduce its quantity and quality by getting something cheaper? If we are selfish and we don’t expect to live much longer, we would probably choose the second choice. Which one would you choose?

It seems that as the more our standard of living improves, the more we tend to waste. In Bulgaria the average monthly salary is $145 per month. When Daniel shares that fact with some of his friends in America, their first reaction is “how do people leave in Bulgaria on such a small salary”. The answer is that most Bulgarians use only what they need and they don’t have the same water and power bills that Americans do. They are not as wasteful as Americans.

Finally, we ask you that you educate others and share your knowledge, observations, experiences and ideas how to save water. We can make a difference by changing our behavior but we can also make a difference by sharing our knowledge and make other people aware of the future fresh water crisis. Today word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to make an impact. In the beginning of the 21 st century, with all the technology that we have, Google became successful thanks to word-of-mouth. Although “we as humans have a hard time with this kind of progression”, the one that can be caused by an epidemic or word-of-mouth, “we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow from small events” (Gladwell 2002, p 10). Our goal is to make an impact in worldwide water usage and we hope that you will join us by making a small step.

The more efficient use of our precious water resources through water conservation and reuse holds a real potential to preserve limited water supplies and to save real money. The largest saver is you, the consumer. Even a 10 percent reduction in personal water use can save billions of dollars over the next 50 years. In order for this to happen the effort to conserve water must begin now with each of us. Harvesting and conserving water is every individual’s duty. Every drop of fresh water is precious. Save it, because it might be the very drop that will quench your thirst one day.

Great savings can be achieved through careful water conservation. And even if you have all the money in the world and don’t care about saving money from your water usage, think about the future. One day, all the money that you have may not be possible to buy you good quality water. Imagine your water usage 50 years from now. Imagine what you would leave to your children. Water goes through a natural cycle process and what we do with the water will come back to us eventually. The more unwise and wasteful we are with water usage, the more impure it will come back to us. With current trends of usage, two out of three people are expected not to have access to sanitary water 50 years from now. You can be one of them. Some governments have used and continue to use the method of turning off the water for whole cities for hours or days to reduce water consumption. This may be your city one day. The future of fresh water is in your hands. Take small steps to preserve it. Let your family and friends know.

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This project was initiated by four MBA students at University of Tampa: Anne Gross, Philip Bowen, Chintan Shah and Daniel Totev and their professor Wanda Chaves, PhD


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