water use

Don’t Let a Leak Break the Bank!

 

By Lina Younes

Recently, when my family and I came back from vacation, we noticed that one of our toilets was leaking. It wasn’t leaking outside the bowl itself. Luckily we didn’t have any water damage. It just hadn’t stopped flushing. The water was running inside the bowl. I thought that was odd. I fixed it and was hoping that it hadn’t been running continuously while we had been away. After the event, I didn’t think more about it and settled back into the daily routine.

Well, I just received the water bill. Guess what? The water bill was DOUBLE what it normally is and we had not even been home for nearly two and a half weeks. Yikes! So, even though we have WaterSense toilets in our home, that leak prevented that toilet from performing efficiently. We learned our lesson. A leaky toilet can do a lot of damage to your home AND your wallet. Did you know that easy-to-fix household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually in the United States alone? That is basically the equivalent of the amount of water used by more than 11 million homes across this country in one year.

Given that water is such a precious resource, what are some simple things that you can do in the home to save water?

  • Well, first of all, fix water leaks in your home. As I learned the hard way, there is no leak too small. Repairing leaks in your bathroom, kitchen and overall plumbing fixtures will reduce water use and help you save money.
  • Turn the tap off while shaving or brushing your teeth. That is the easiest one to implement immediately, plus it’s a good habit to teach your children at an early age.
  • Take short showers instead of long baths.
  • When using the washing machine or the dishwater, make sure you have a full load.
  • When watering your garden, make sure to do it early in the morning.
  • Install water efficient plumbing fixtures with the WaterSense Label.

Do you have any other water savings tips you would like to share? I’ll leave you with a useful WaterSense tool,  which will help you calculate your water savings. I hope it helps you to go green.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Technology Innovation and Water Reuse

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By Nancy Stoner

Water reuse is one of the areas where innovative technology can solve challenges and create opportunities, and was identified in the Water Technology Innovation Blueprint that I released in March.

Water quantity issues are increasingly part of conversations as I talk with people across the country. Drought conditions are becoming more frequent and we need to consider that when planning for water needs.  We can learn from communities like Austin, Texas, which are not only conserving more water, but are developing distribution networks to reuse more of the water treated at wastewater facilities.

In July I visited Austin, where an unlikely landmark shows the city’s commitment to water reuse. The 170-foot tall 51st Street Reclaimed Water Tower holds 2 million gallons of reclaimed water and is helping the city through drought. This innovative technology allows the city to reuse treated wastewater that is normally discharged into the Colorado River. In fact, 5,300 homes are able to access 1.17 billion gallons per year of reclaimed water, saving the city water and money.

I also visited the City of Austin’s Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant. Effluent from the wastewater treatment plant irrigates 150 acres of farmland.  Hay and crops are harvested and some of the revenue goes to the city while the dried biosolids are used on-site. The biosolids are turned into nutrient rich compost called Dillo Dirt, which is used to landscape public places or sold to commercial vendors. Hornsby Bend is also capturing the methane gas it produces to generate its heat and electricity.

Austin is doing a great job of finding purchasers for the reused water, not only for irrigation, but also for industrial reuse. For example, BAE Systems uses reclaimed water for two chilling stations that supply the water to an entire facility. While the industrial users are finding some transition costs due to the different quality of reused water, the price differential between the two is so great that they save significant money in the long run. With current drought restrictions in Austin, lawn watering is now limited to one day per week, so areas irrigated by reused water – which has less restrictions – are much greener than others.

Austin is just one example of the water reuse innovations arising across the nation and shows that using innovative technology to address water challenges not only saves money, but in some areas is necessary for survival.

About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.