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The Real Worth of Water

2011 August 4

By Elona Myftaraj

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

– Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746.

waterfaucetThere are approximately seven billion people in the world and I am just one of those people. Born in one of the poorest countries in the world, Albania, I know what it feels like to have no direct access to clean drinking water.  My family had to climb mountains for hours every weekend in order to fill up huge buckets, barrels and bottles with clean, fresh water in order to meet our basic needs. The Earth’s surface is covered with over 70% of water; however something many may not be aware of is that less than 1% percent of that water is clean enough to be used for human needs.

How much water do think you use each day? Estimates vary, but the average U.S citizen uses 158 gallons (600 liters) of water every day.  To think of it another way, multiply that 158 gallons per day of use by the 311,763,576 million people living in the U.S., and then consider the rest of the world…

Plus, 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more each day (for example, a showerhead leaking 10 drips per minute wastes enough water in a year to run a dishwasher 60 times). The amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than one trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined!

Closer to home, retrofitting just 20% of households in the Mid-Atlantic with water-efficient fixtures could save more than 65 billion gallons of water and more than 215 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—that’s enough water to supply Philadelphia residents for more than seven months and enough electricity to power 243,000 households for one month.

That comes to my main point of thought:  there is a limited amount of clean water to go around, and a constantly increasing population that demands it.

What is EPA doing to help us conserve this crucial resource? Tune in next week to find out!

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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