I’m sure we’ve all heard at least once in our life that someone told us to turn the water valve off because we’re wasting water. Probably while we’re brushing our teeth, letting it run while doing the dishes, or something else. This got me questioning, can water really be wasted? Will water run out and there will be a time on Earth when it’s hard for us to have access to water?
To put your mind at ease, water cannot be wasted in the sense that you think. The water supply on Earth will not run out, but the clean water supply access can. Water is always being recycled, but the amount of time it takes to recycle and meet the demands, that’s a concern.
This article will discuss the possibilities of running out of water, what happens to water after you use it, how water is wasted everyday and ways to reduce your water wastage.
Is it Possible to Run Out of Water
Earth is full of water, about 71 percent of Earth’s surface is covered in water. We all know water is essential to life and all living things and is vital to the ecosystem. It’s also found everywhere in oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers, etc. Technically speaking, Earth will never run out of water.
When we hear the phrase, “don’t waste water” what it really means is you’re wasting the energy that it took to pump the water, clean and filter, and even heat up. Water can never run out, but the problem is the distribution and readily available clean water.
Water is more scarce in different areas of the globe because some areas are not near large bodies of water or it doesn’t rain as often. Farther water banks require more equipment and energy to pump them near a living area.
The water that you use every day is pumped from a nearby lake or river. If you live in a city, there are more people whereas if you live in the country, there are generally fewer people. People in the city have to share with more people, so imagine in the morning time when everyone is getting ready for work or making a cup of coffee, that is shared water from a limited source.
So when we’re talking about wasting water, we are talking about wasting drinkable clean water from a reservoir that is being drained much faster than it is being replenished. The phrase is misleading and should be changed to “you’re wasting energy”.
Where does water go after you use it
Thankfully our Earth is amazing and we have something called the water cycle. The water cycle is a system that describes the position of water on Earth, where it moves to, and how it constantly gets renewed over and over. In simple terms, water evaporates, condensates, and then precipitates.
If you don’t remember 5th-grade science class, the video below will explain the water cycle. Even though it’s made for kids, adults can benefit from it too!
When you use water outside, such as watering your lawn or washing your car, that water goes back into the water cycle and gets renewed by rain. This is why some cities have rules on watering your lawn, that water gets taken away from the clean water reservoir and leaves the water system. Once it’s in the ground it comes back as rain, and rain is not a reliable source.
When you use water to brush your teeth and wash your hands in the sink, the water flows down the drain and back into the water system developed by your city to renew. Our water system kind of has a water cycle of its own! This is why we hear the “don’t waste water” all the time.
How Water is Wasted Everyday
To generate the clean water that we use every day from our faucets, the water system works hard to pump water from nearby water sources and then filters the water to make it drinkable, and then if needed, it gets heated up. It’s a luxury to have available hot water with an easy lift or turn of a nozzle, and when it’s part of your everyday life, it’s very easy to take advantage of.
What we don’t think about though, is that the energy it takes to make clean water has a carbon footprint. Pretty much anything you do at this point has a carbon footprint, but a carbon footprint affects climate change. Climate change then affects the environment, which means it can affect water availability.
It’s very helpful that we know about the cycles and systems so we can do our part to help preserve Earth.
Here are top reasons water is wasted everyday.
- Leaky pipes. The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons of water annually, from household leaks.
- Dishwashers, washing and drying machines that are not full loads
- Inefficient toilets, faucets, showerheads, and pipes.
- Overwatering lawns, watering on unnecessary days like rainy days or watering at the hottest time of day, and not having a good irrigation system.
- Unnecessarily letting the water run when you wash dishes, brush your teeth, or wait for the shower to heat up.
- Using extremely hot water, overfilling bathtubs, or taking too long of showers. Read this article here to learn more about the eco-friendliness of taking a bath.
Ways to Reduce your Water Wastage
If you are guilty of any of the reasons listed above, basically just do the opposite. Be aware of when you’re letting the water run.
Each American uses an average of 82 gallons of water a day at home, and the average family spends more than $1,000 per year on water costs. Not only is reducing water usage good for the environment, but it will also save you money. I can only imagine water being even more expensive if it becomes more scarce. Develop those new habits now!
The first thing to do is to see what you are already working with. Inefficient equipment will cost you. Leaky faucets, pipes, toilets, dishwasher, washer, dryer, etc. Have them evaluated to see if they are still in good condition. If it is time to replace, then look for things with a WaterSense Label. It’s a label for water-efficient products and a resource for helping you save water. Things like a water-efficient showerhead are a good place to start!
Look up your city’s rule about watering your lawn, some places only allow it on certain days. Overwatering is so unnecessary and so easy to prevent. Check the weather before you do it, don’t just have the hose running without using it.
It’s so simple yet it’s something we’ve taken for granted since we have such easy access to it every day. It’s a vital source we sure don’t want to lose but want to preserve for more generations to come.