Basic Water Conservation 101

Water conservation refers to reducing the usage of water and recycling of waste water for different purposes such as cleaning, manufacturing, and agricultural irrigation.

According to Wikipedia: Water conservation can be defined as: Any beneficial reduction in water loss, use or waste as well as the preservation of water quality. A reduction in water use accomplished by implementation of water conservation or water efficiency measures; or, Improved water management practices that reduce or enhance the beneficial use of water. A water conservation measure is an action, behavioral change, device, technology, or improved design or process implemented to reduce water loss, waste, or use. Water efficiency is a tool of water conservation. That results in more efficient water use and thus reduces water demand. The value and cost-effectiveness of a water efficiency measure must be evaluated in relation to its effects on the use and cost of other natural resources (e.g. energy or chemicals).

The goals of water conservation efforts include as follows:

  • Sustainability. To ensure availability for future generations, the withdrawal of fresh water from an ecosystem should not exceed its natural replacement rate.
  • Energy conservation. Water pumping, delivery, and wastewater treatment facilities consume a significant amount of energy. In some regions of the world (for example, California) over 15% of total electricity consumption is devoted to water management.
  • Habitat conservation. Minimizing human water use helps to preserve fresh water habitats for local wildlife and migrating waterfowl, as well as reducing the need to build new dams and other water diversion infrastructure.

Water conservation programs are typically initiated at the local level, by either municipal water utilities or regional governments. Common strategies include public rebate campaigns, tiered water rates (charging progressively higher prices as water use increases), or restrictions on outdoor water use such as lawn watering and car washing. Cities in dry climates often require or encourage the installation of xeriscaping or natural landscaping in new homes to reduce outdoor water usage.

One fundamental conservation goal is universal metering. The prevalence of residential water metering varies significantly worldwide. Recent studies have estimated that water supplies are metered in less than 30% of households, and about 61% of urban homes (as of 2001) Although individual water meters have often been considered impractical in homes with private wells or in multifamily buildings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that metering alone can reduce consumption by 20 to 40 percent. In addition to raising consumer awareness of their water use, metering is also an important way to identify and localize water leaks.

Some researchers have suggested that water conservation efforts should be primarily directed at farmers, in light of the fact that crop irrigation accounts for 70% of the world’s fresh water use. The agricultural sector of most countries is important both economically and politically, and water subsidies are common. Conservation advocates have urged removal of all subsidies to force farmers to grow more water-efficient crops and adopt less wasteful irrigation techniques.

Water-saving technology for the home includes:

  • Temperature controlled hot water recirculation valve, which provides instant hot water (so water is not wasted down the drain waiting for water to run hot at your faucet or shower). This simple DIY installation (no water pump required) can save an average household up to 17,000 gallons per year. It also saves energy costs and can prevent pipe freezing with faster hot water.
  • Low-flow shower heads sometimes called energy-efficient shower heads as they also use less energy, Low-flush toilets and composting toilets. These have a dramatic impact in the developed world, as conventional Western toilets use large volumes of water.
  • Dual flush toilets includes two buttons or handles to flush different levels of water. Dual flush toilets use up to 67% less water than conventional toilets.
  • Saline water (sea water) or rain water can be used for flushing toilets.
  • Faucet aerators, which break water flow into fine droplets to maintain “wetting effectiveness” while using less water. An additional benefit is that they reduce splashing while washing hands and dishes.
  • Wastewater reuse or recycling systems, allowing the reuse of graywater for flushing toilets or watering gardens, and recycling of wastewater through purification at a water treatment plant.
  • High-efficiency clothes washers.
  • Weather-based irrigation controllers.
  • Garden hose nozzles that shut off water when it is not being used, instead of letting a hose run.
  • Using low-flow taps in wash basins.
  • Automatic faucets-a water conservation faucet that eliminates water waste at the faucet. It automates the use of faucets without the using of hands.
  • Water can also be conserved by landscaping with native plants and by changing behavior, such as shortening showers and not running the faucet while brushing teeth.
  • Installing an eco-friendly temperature controlled hot water recirculation valve to your plumbing, which provides instant hot water (so water is not wasted down the drain waiting for water to run hot at your faucet or shower). The Hot Water Lobster Instant Hot Water Valve is a simple eco-friendly DIY installation (no water pump required) can save an average household up to 17,000 gallons per year. It also saves energy costs and can prevent pipe freezing.
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