water consumption

Reading sees success of saving water during drought

By Gina Snyder

Ten years after my hometown of Reading, Mass., joined the regional water supply system and stopped pumping the groundwater wells that supplied our drinking water, northeast Massachusetts and much of New England is in the worst drought in decades. Before we stopped pumping in 2006, droughts like we’ve had this summer would have turned the Ipswich River into a dry riverbed littered with dead fish. This summer it did not.

Before Reading bought into the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority drinking water system, every second or third year the Ipswich River would go dry. The drought of 2016 has given us reason to celebrate the Town Meeting vote of 2006.readingwater1

In September, I got together with some of my fellow Reading Stream Team members to re-enact a locally famous kayak-without-any-water (“Got Water?”) picture taken in 2002, the year of a severe drought but not as severe as this year. At the time the Ipswich River Watershed Association brought together Stream Teamers and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs at the river to show the conditions. We could not quite reproduce the photo we took then this year since there’s water in the river!

A Stream Team member positioned her kayak while two other members held the famous poster “Got Water?” and I took the picture.

Even before the vote of a decade ago, Reading had a strong water conservation program, distributing on average no more than 55 gallons of water per person per day (below the state Department of Environmental Protection Water Conservation Standard of 65 gallons per capita per day). But conditions were dire nonetheless, with groundwater withdrawals exceeding 2.5 million gallons a day on some of the hottest summer days.

Reading’s water conservation program has continued to show the success it had before switching to the MWRA. Lawn watering is restricted throughout the year, and the Town provides free rain gauges and irrigation timers. A rain gauge helps homeowners determine when the garden, flowers or lawn need watering. The irrigation timer attaches to a garden hose to control how long the sprinkler stays on.

The conservation program will replace homeowners’ garden hose nozzles to help save water when watering outside. The nozzle has an adjustable setting to help water properly. The town also provides faucet aerators to reduce water flow, low-flow showerheads, and leak detection tablets. And, if a homeowner has to replace that leaky toilet, Reading will provide a rebate on a low-flow toilet.

I’ve been so excited as the summer drew to a close and that river segment continued to have water. It’s the most amazing success story I’ve been involved in. I have year after year of dead fish pictures, so to be able to take pictures of water in this year of serious drought has been remarkable.reading2

Reading learned about water conservation while pumping the Ipswich dry. In that case however, conservation wasn’t enough to save the river. The collage below shows a graph of rainfall amounts (from Boston) over the summer drought of 2002 (in photo on left) compared to this year (photo on right). We can see that rainfall monthly totals during this summer have been much lower than they were in 2002, but the river continues to have water quite a ways downstream.

While conditions are severe elsewhere in the Ipswich River and some of its tributaries, with dry riverbed conditions downstream of the Reading Town Forest, Reading has reason to celebrate – its section of the Ipswich River has “Got Water!” And while water conservation continues in this year of severe drought, here’s one success story we can celebrate.

About the author:  Gina Snyder works in the Office of Environmental Stewardship, Compliance Assistance at EPA New England and serves on her town’s climate committee. She lives in Reading, Mass

https://www3.epa.gov/region1/eco/drinkwater/water_conservation.html.

http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/eea/wrc/water-conservation-standards-rev-june-2012.pdf

http://www.ipswichriver.org/the-ipswich-river-in-the-news/

 

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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Terps Leave Tinier Water Footprints

By Madeleine Raley

The University of Maryland (UMD) is one of the largest consumers of freshwater in the state of Maryland, but it’s making big steps in water conservation across campus. Despite the addition of a new dorm in 2011, which added 640 beds and over 180 bathrooms to campus, water consumption levels have remained relatively steady at about a half a billion gallons annually since 2009. This is thanks to mass implementation of new water saving devices such as low-flow toilets, showers, faucets and moisture sensors on irrigation fields.

Although I’ve been a student at UMD for the past three years, it wasn’t until I came to intern for EPA’s Office of Water this semester that I truly began to appreciate the innovative ways UMD conserves water. During my internship, I learned about WaterSense, a partnership program started by EPA’s Office of Water, which offers people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Three water efficient products in the program are low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads. According to EPA, one WaterSense low flow showerhead will save 2,900 gallons of water and $70 a year. To earn the WaterSense label, a showerhead needs to be under a 2.00/gallon per minute flow.

Residential facilities at UMD says that every single shower on campus (1,236 to be exact) has a 1.5/gallon per minute flow. They even have an entire residence hall that utilizes showers with 1.25/gallon per minute flow. The campus also boasts 1,370 toilets equipped with low-flow flush valves, and 1,370 sinks equipped with low flow aerators. To illustrate how effective this is, let’s consider the case of Washington Hall. In 2011-2012 Washington Hall used an average of 65,750 gallons of water annually. However, after the installation of low-flow products, the building used an average of 34,250 gallons of water annually in 2013-2014, saving over 30,000 gallons a year.

When organizations buy WaterSense products, they empower the individual to make a difference without even realizing it, simply by using the WaterSense products offered. Recruiting larger organizations and companies – or even universities — could be an effective solution to curb the immense amount of water wasted by toilets, faucets and showerheads, like at the University of Maryland.

About the author: Madeleine Raley is a Spring Intern for the Office of Water Communications Team. She is a senior Government and Politics Major and Sustainability Minor at the University of Maryland and is expecting to graduate in May.

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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Earth Month Tip: Run your dishwasher with a full load only

Make the most efficient use of your dishwasher’s energy and water consumption and run the dishwasher only when you have enough dirty dishes accumulated for a full load. Running your dishwasher with a full load only can prevent100 pounds of carbon pollution and save $40 on energy bills annually. Using the air-dry option, if available, helps too.

In addition, you can save water and energy by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading the dishwasher. Most dishwashers today can thoroughly clean dishes that have had food scraped, rather than rinsed, off — the wash cycle and detergent take care of the rest.

 

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Sister Post: Net Zero Strategies – Partnering to Promote Sustainability

One of our sister blogs, EPA Connect, the official blog of EPA’s leadership, recently shared a post featuring a Net Zero workshop in Research Triangle Park. We’ve included the first few paragraphs here (you can continue reading over on EPA Connect), and we’ve also included a few extra photos for your viewing pleasure. 

By EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe

How can communities reduce their water, waste, and energy footprints? How can they promote sustainable strategies at the local level while simultaneously fostering economic growth and promoting citizen health and well-being? I was recently given the opportunity to consider these questions alongside EPA scientists and community leaders and while observing cutting edge sustainability work.

This week, EPA scientists and community leaders from across the country came together at the Feb. 25-26 workshop “Promoting Sustainability through Net Zero Strategies.”

The workshop builds on the success of EPA’s Net Zero partnership with the U.S. Army. Started in 2011, the partnership aims to develop and demonstrate sustainable technologies and approaches in support of the Army’s ambitious goal to achieve zero energy and water consumption, and create no waste on its installations. Hence, the name: “Net Zero.”

Continue reading on the EPA Connect blog.

Deputy Administrator Perciasepe tours the solar roof of EPA’s current Research Triangle Park building with U.S. Representative David Price, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack, Stan Meiburg, and EPA employees Pete Schubert, Greg Eades, and Liz Deloatch.

Deputy Administrator Perciasepe tours the solar roof of EPA’s current Research Triangle Park building with U.S. Representative David Price, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack, Stan Meiburg, and EPA employees Pete Schubert, Greg Eades, and Liz Deloatch.

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe sitting on the Village Green bench. Learn more about Village Green at http://blog.epa.gov/blog/category/village-green-project/

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe sitting on the Village Green bench. Learn more about Village Green at http://blog.epa.gov/blog/category/village-green-project/

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and others listen to briefing on EPA’s new Research Triangle Park building that is incorporating sustainability principles.

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and others listen to briefing on EPA’s new Research Triangle Park building that is incorporating sustainability principles.

Read other It All Starts with Science blogs about Net Zero.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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