Tue. Jan 25th, 2022

Persistent drought in the western United States, including this week’s announcement of the first water shortage on the Colorado River and the vital Lake Mead, brings a new look at how much water is wasted in households across the country, although many homeowners have little idea how much water they actually use or how to effectively conserve the limited resource, experts say.

Farms and large companies use, on average, much more water than households; for example, agriculture is 80% of water consumption in California. Still, the average U.S. family can waste 9,400 gallons of water annually, just from leaks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This equates to the water needed to wash more than 300 loads of clothes.

All of these drips add up to about 900 billion gallons of water annually across the country, enough wasted water to match the annual use of nearly 11 million homes. Undoubtedly, residential homes are being affected by droughts and are also adding their own impact.

Awareness of water bill, utilization rates, energy efficiency appliances, and refinement of daily habits can have an effect on water stretching during restrictions and as a precautionary measure. Homeowners often have little idea what features of their home use the most water and when, says Nelson Pedreido, a California-based aerospace engineer who, with his municipal wife, has created a device called Pleco. It slides on the home water meter and sends real-time data displayed with color graphics in a smartphone app, distinguishing between appliances, sinks, or pool, for example.

“We have found that the typical knowledge of the average domestic water user is nil. Some may tell you what their total water bill is routinely, but few even pay attention to it,” Pedreido said.

Historical times, unprecedented action

Right now, the gravity of the situation in the western U.S. leaves many homeowners closely analyzing its use, or should be, Pedreido believes. Remember that one customer regretted that reducing shower time, removing lawn watering and running the dishwasher only at night when they were doing the same minus houses did not involve enough changes. This is because a pool valve suffered a slow, leaky drip that the owner had in the dark.

Swimming pools and other domestic water use may soon be reduced sharply in some parts of the country, if they are not yet, given the dry, heavy summer and what some scientists say may be the formation of a “mega drought.” long lasting that is not seen for centuries.

The U.S. Drought Monitor estimates that about 60 million people live in drought zones right now.

Levels at Lake Mead, the largest among several reservoirs on the Colorado River, have dropped to record lows. Already, levels of man-made water sources, which serve 40 million people, have been declining since 1999, in part due to rising demand in areas with growing populations. The persistence of higher temperatures for longer parts of the year and the melting of mountain snow due to climate change have reduced river flow. Droughts have also fueled several major forest fires. The U.S. Forest Service said last week that it operates in crisis mode, fully deploying firefighters and maximizing its support system.

Opinion: This is how the western states must change due to the water shortage of the Colorado River

Colorado River reservoirs supply domestic water, farm irrigation, and hydroelectric power to Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Mexico. With the use reduction agreements, Arizona will be the hardest hit and will lose 18% of its river share next year, or 512,000 acres-feet of water. This accounts for about 8% of the state’s total water consumption, the Associated Press reports. One acre is enough water to supply one to two homes a year.

California saves the immediate cuts related to Lake Mead because it has more water rights than Arizona and Nevada. But California had already implemented its own voluntary drought-related water reductions in early summer.

Not only are the typically dry spots hit; the historic drought extends to the Pacific Northwest, much of the Intermountain West, and the northern plains.

In all, the U.S. Drought Monitor estimates that about 60 million people live in drought zones right now. Your site provides regular drought updates for all of the US

Dark red areas suffer from the most severe drought conditions. The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Center for Drought Mitigation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USDA and NOAA. Map credit: NDMC.

What to do at home

First, it is important to understand how conditions have changed. This means that water use habits will also have to change or be much more expensive and could cause more damage and costs to communities. Transparency and monitoring of water use will be important.

Drought in the West is normal. But areas that could normally have spent a few weeks without rain can now spend a few months with little drop. In the mountains, there is more precipitation than rain instead of snow, decreasing the snow pack. And the snow pack melts faster than in recent memory, making it harder to manage “party and hunger” water supplies. In addition, the soil and vegetation lose more moisture as temperatures rise.

According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 40 out of 50 state water managers expect water shortages on average in some parts of their states over the next decade.

Giving the main bathroom of a home a high-efficiency change of efficiency by installing a toilet, shower and faucet lifter with WaterSense label can be paid for in just one year, according to the EPA .

Changes in habits can have an impact. First habit change: Read your water bill and usage rates regularly, if you haven’t already.

Running the dishwasher only when it is full can eliminate a load of dishes a week and save the average family almost 320 liters of water a year.

If you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can save 8 liters of water a day, and while shaving, you can save 10 liters of water per shave. Assuming you brush your teeth twice a day and shave 5 times a week, you could save about 5,700 gallons a year.

New appliances make a difference. The EPA urges consumers to check for WaterSense labels, saying these products are 20% more water efficient and perform as well or better than standard models.

The average family can save 13,000 gallons of water and $ 130 in water costs a year by replacing all the old, inefficient toilets in their home. Upgraded faucets and aerators with WaterSense-labeled models can save the family a $ 250 expense in water and electricity over the life of the faucets. And replacing shower heads can reduce the family’s average water and electricity costs by $ 70 and can save the average family more than 2,700 gallons of water a year, equal to the amount of water needed to wash 88 loads of clothes. Shorter showers can always be encouraged, especially when younger family members are becoming fashionable in the headlines of climate change.

Read: Biden says it’s time to reverse Trump’s rule of low-flow showers, especially when drought takes over from the west

Giving the main bathroom of a home a high-efficiency change of efficiency by installing a toilet, shower and faucet lifter with WaterSense label can be paid for in just one year, according to the EPA .

Ask yourself if your choice of lawn and garden plantations is best for your area. Outdoor water use accounts for more than 30% of total domestic water consumption, on average, but can reach 60% of total domestic water consumption in arid regions.

If the medium-sized lawn in the United States is watered 20 minutes every day for seven days, it’s like taking a shower constantly for four days or taking more than 800 showers. This equates to the amount of water needed for the average family to shower for a year.

Don’t fix it and forget about it. Irrigation systems need regular attention. A home with a landscape irrigation system that is not maintained and functioning properly can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water a year.

Native plants can be key to smart water use and soil health.

Finally, know your settings. Pedreiro said the idiosyncrasy of his home is part of what moved him to develop the water monitoring device.

His bill indicated that he used an additional 500 gallons a week which he could not account for, and at two in the morning, when the house was practically closed. It turns out that his water softener had to be regenerated three times a week, when product guidelines were only requested once a week.

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