By Elona Myftaraj
I lived in Albania until I was about six years old, and one of the few things I remember is how scarce water was. There was very little indoor plumbing, and every Saturday was spent walking up the mountain carrying water, an all day trip. All water was stored in huge barrels, each specified for drinking, bathing, farming, or household chores. The water had to be carefully rationed so it didn’t run out.
When we moved to the United States, my sisters and I were fascinated with the indoor water systems. Since water was now abundant, we started to get carried away with our usage. We could control the temperature of the water instead of waiting for the sun to warm it up, and we could finish the dishes unbelievably quickly. There were no more trips up the mountain and, seemingly, no need to conserve. We had all of the water we wanted, whenever we wanted it… that is, until our dad saw the water bill. He reminded us of the way we used to live and explained to us how important conserving water was, even if we live in a place where its supply is not scarce. We learned to do simple things to save water, like not letting the sink run when we brush our teeth, and remembered that we didn’t need to waste so much.
Working as a student at the EPA has taught me a great deal about how important water is, along with many ways to conserve. I learned that a toilet leak can waste as much as 200 gallons of water every day, and that washing your car with a bucket and sponge instead of a hose saves a lot of water. Replacing old or broken showerheads, sink faucets, and toilets with the WaterSense labeled products can be a big help. Just taking a few simple steps can help save a lot of water.
That’s how I learned to save water. What’s your story? Share it with us in honor of Fix a Leak Week (March 12-19, 2012).