Ten Thousand Gallons

By Veronica Blette

“Uh-oh, that can’t be good,” I thought as I entered my house to hear the sound of running water. I went upstairs to find that the flapper on my toilet had become stuck in the open position, which led to its earnest, yet futile, efforts to fill the bowl all day long. Yes, while I spent my day in the office trying to advance a nationwide ethic of water efficiency, water was running down my drain. My water bill for the month almost doubled as a result of that one day of wasted toilet filling.

So, what’s the connection with 10,000 gallons? That’s how much water we waste in our houses each year through leaks! Across the country, easy-to-fix household leaks add up to more than one trillion gallons of water lost annually, robbing homeowners of 12 percent of their water bill.

Less than one percent of the Earth’s water is available for human use, and managing water is a growing concern in the United States. Using water more efficiently and avoiding waste helps maintain supplies at safe levels now and for future generations.

That’s why we are encouraging homeowners to find and fix leaks during the third annual Fix a Leak Week, March 14 – 20, 2011. Be for water and start saving today with three simple steps:

1. Check

First, check your home for leaks. You can detect silent toilet leaks, a common water-wasting culprit, by adding food coloring to the toilet tank and waiting 10 minutes before flushing. If color appears in the bowl, your toilet has a leak.

2. Twist

Give leaking faucet and showerhead connections a firm twist to ensure that pipe connections are sealed tight. For additional savings, twist WaterSense labeled aerators onto bathroom faucets to use 30 percent less water without noticing a difference in flow.

3 .Replace

If you just can’t nip that drip, it may be time to replace the fixture. Look for WaterSense labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well as or better than standard models.

Don’t find yourself in my shoes. Take these simple steps and reduce the potential for leaks lurking in your life. Want to do more? Join my team and thousands of your neighbors by supporting the We’re for Water campaign. Visit and take the I’m for Water pledge and “like” WaterSense on Facebook.

About the author: Veronica Blette leads EPA’s WaterSense program. Veronica has been with the Agency for more than thirteen years and, going forward, will always make sure the toilet is not running before she goes to work.

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