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Water Tips & Trivia

How Much Water Does it Take?

  • 2,072 gallons to make four new tires
  • 20 gallons of water per glass of beer
  • 101 gallons of water to make one pound of wool or cotton
  • 2,110 gallons of water for one pair of leather shoes
  • 900 gallons of water for one pair of blue jeans
  • 36 gallons of water per egg
  • 60 gallons of water per serving of corn
  • 18 gallons of water per apple
  • 3 gallons of water per tomato
  • 2.6 gallons of water per sheet of paper
  • 37 gallons of water per cup of coffee
  • 11 gallons of water per slice of bread
  • 32 gallons of water per glass of wine
  • 1,083 gallons of water for one cotton shirt
  • 468 gallons of water per pound
  • 616 gallons of water per 4 oz. hamburger
  • 1,232 gallons of water per 8 oz. steak
  • 39,090 gallons of water are used to manufacture a new car, including tires

Water Use Statistics

Daily indoor per capita water use is 69.3 gallons. Here is how it breaks down:

Use
Showers
Clothes Washers
Dishwashers
Toilets
Baths
Leaks
Faucets
Other Domestic Uses
Gallons per Capita
11.6
15.0
1.0
18.5
1.2
9.5
10.9
1.6
Percentage of Total Daily Use
16.8%
21.7%
1.4%
26.7%
1.7%
13.7%
15.7%
2.2%

.

Average household water use annually (including outdoor): 27,400 gallons

Average daily household water use (including outdoor): 350 gallons

Source: Residential End Uses of Water (Denver, Colo.: Water Research Foundation, 1999).

By installing more efficient water fixtures and regularly checking for leaks, households can reduce daily indoor per capita water use by about 35% to about 45.2 gallons per day Here’s how it breaks down for households using conservation measures:

Use
Showers
Clothes Washers
Dishwashers
Toilets
Baths
Leaks
Faucets
Other Domestic Uses
Gallons per Capita
8.8
10.0
0.7
8.2
1.2
4.0
10.8
1.6
Percentage of Total Daily Use
19.5%
22.1%
1.5%
18.0%
2.7%
8.8%
23.9%
3.4%

.

20 Interesting and Useful Water Facts

  1. Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water.
  2. At birth, water accounts for approximately 80 percent of an infant’s body weight.
  3. A healthy person can drink about three gallons (48 cups) of water per day.
  4. Drinking too much water too quickly can lead to water intoxication. Water intoxication occurs when water dilutes the sodium level in the bloodstream and causes an imbalance of water in the brain.
  5. Water intoxication is most likely to occur during periods of intense athletic performance.
  6. While the daily recommended amount of water is eight cups per day, not all of this water must be consumed in the liquid form. Nearly every food or drink item provides some water to the body.
  7. Soft drinks, coffee, and tea, while made up almost entirely of water, also contain caffeine. Caffeine can act as a mild diuretic, preventing water from traveling to necessary locations in the body.
  8. Pure water (solely hydrogen and oxygen atoms) has a neutral pH of 7, which is neither acidic nor basic.
  9. Water dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Wherever it travels, water carries chemicals, minerals, and nutrients with it.
  10. Somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water.
  11. Much more fresh water is stored under the ground in aquifers than on the earth’s surface.
  12. The earth is a closed system, similar to a terrarium, meaning that it rarely loses or gains extra matter. The same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still present today.
  13. The total amount of water on the earth is about 326 million cubic miles of water.
  14. Of all the water on the earth, humans can used only about three tenths of a percent of this water. Such usable water is found in groundwater aquifers, rivers, and freshwater lakes.
  15. The United States uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day.
  16. The United States uses nearly 80 percent of its water for irrigation and thermoelectric power.
  17. The average person in the United States uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day. Flushing the toilet actually takes up the largest amount of this water.
  18. Approximately 85 percent of U.S. residents receive their water from public water facilities. The remaining 15 percent supply their own water from private wells or other sources.
  19. By the time a person feels thirsty, his or her body has lost over 1 percent of its total water amount.
  20. The weight a person loses directly after intense physical activity is weight from water, not fat.

110 Ways to Conserve Water

There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.

  1. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  2. Evaporative coolers require a seasonal maintenance checkup. For more efficient cooling, check your evaporative cooler annually.
  3. Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  4. Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full and you could save 1000 gallons a month.
  5. Avoid planting turf in areas that are hard to water such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
  6. Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps.
  7. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost instead and save gallons every time.
  8. Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.
  9. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks, so that every drop goes down you not the drain.
  10. Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
  11. Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours, when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
  12. Wash your produce in the sink or a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap.
  13. Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
  14. Use a broom or leaf blower instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk and save 80 gallons of water every time.
  15. If your shower can fill a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, then replace it with a water-efficient showerhead.
  16. Collect the water you use for rinsing produce and reuse it to water houseplants.
  17. Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
  18. We’re more likely to notice leaky faucets indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses for leaks.
  19. Periodically check your pool for leaks if you have an automatic refilling device.
  20. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  21. When you shop for a new appliance, consider one offering cycle and load size adjustments. They are more water and energy-efficient than older appliances.
  22. Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. You’ll save up to 1000 gallons a month.
  23. Install low-volume toilets.
  24. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
  25. When you clean your fish tank, use the water you’ve drained on your plants. The water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, providing you with a free and effective fertilizer.
  26. Use the sprinkler for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
  27. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak. It’s easy to fix, and you can save more than 600 gallons a month.
  28. Plug the bathtub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  29. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
  30. Direct downspouts and other runoff towards shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
  31. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day. This will cut down on the number of times you run your dishwasher.
  32. Water your summer lawns once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days.
  33. Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering.
  34. Don’t use running water to thaw food.
  35. Choose a water-efficient drip irrigation system for trees, shrubs and flowers. Watering at the roots is very effective, be careful not to over water.
  36. Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and can save 140 gallons a week.
  37. Reduce the amount of grass in your yard by planting shrubs, and ground cover with rock and granite mulching.
  38. When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
  39. Teach your children to turn the faucets off tightly after each use.
  40. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the heads in good shape.
  41. Before you lather up, install a low-flow showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save your family more than 500 gallons a week.
  42. Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  43. Don’t water your lawn on windy days. After all, sidewalks and driveways don’t need water.
  44. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
  45. Make sure you know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save gallons of water and damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
  46. When watering grass on steep slopes, use a soaker hose to prevent wasteful runoff.
  47. Group plants with the same watering needs together to get the most out of your watering time.
  48. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  49. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  50. Avoid installing ornamental water features and fountains that spray water into the air. Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation.
  51. Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  52. Don’t buy recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
  53. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save 4 gallons a minute. That’s 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  54. Buy a rain gauge to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives. Check with your local water agency to see how much rain is needed to skip an irrigation cycle.
  55. Encourage your school system and local government to help develop and promote a water conservation ethic among children and adults.
  56. Teach your family how to shut off your automatic watering systems. Turn sprinklers off if the system is malfunctioning or when a storm is approaching.
  57. Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden with a hose.
  58. Make sure your toilet flapper doesn’t stick open after flushing.
  59. Make sure there are aerators on all of your faucets.
  60. Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.
  61. Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will also reduce heating costs for your household.
  62. Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day.
  63. Cut back on rinsing if your dishwasher is new. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
  64. Use a screwdriver as a soil probe to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don’t water. Proper lawn watering can save thousands of gallons of water annually.
  65. Avoid overseeding your lawn with winter grass. Once established, ryegrass needs water every three to five days, whereas dormant Bermuda grass needs water only once a month.
  66. Do one thing each day that will save water. Even if savings are small, every drop counts.
  67. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  68. Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.
  69. Bathe your young children together.
  70. Landscape with Xeriscape trees, plants and groundcovers. Call your local conservation office for more information about these water thrifty plants.
  71. Winterize outdoor spigots when temps dip to 20 degrees F to prevent pipes from bursting or freezing.
  72. Insulate hot water pipes so you don’t have to run as much water to get hot water to the faucet.
  73. Wash your car on the grass. This will water your lawn at the same time.
  74. Drop that tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save gallons every time.
  75. If you have an evaporative cooler, direct the water drain to a flowerbed, tree, or your lawn.
  76. Make suggestions to your employer to save water (and dollars) at work.
  77. Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and other uses.
  78. Use a hose nozzle and turn off the water while you wash your car and save more than 100 gallons.
  79. Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water-conscious community.
  80. If your toilet was installed prior to 1980, place a toilet dam or bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to cut down on the amount of water used for each flush. Be sure these devices do not interfere with operating parts.
  81. Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum number of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness.
  82. Wash clothes only when you have a full load and save up to 600 gallons each month.
  83. Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on top of the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
  84. Pick-up the phone and report significant water losses from broken pipes, open hydrants and errant sprinklers to the property owner or your water management district.
  85. Bermuda grasses are dormant (brown) in the winter and will only require water once every three to four weeks or less if it rains.
  86. Start a compost pile. Using compost when you plant adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
  87. Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
  88. Listen for dripping faucets and toilets that flush themselves. Fixing a leak can save 500 gallons each month.
  89. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when necessary.
  90. Cook food in as little water as possible. This will also retain more of the nutrients.
  91. Adjust your watering schedule to the season. Water your summer lawn every third day and your winter lawn every fifth day.
  92. Turn the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair and you can save more than 50 gallons a week.
  93. Bathe your pets outdoors in an area in need of water.
  94. Choose new water-saving appliances, like washing machines that save up to 20 gallons per load.
  95. Water only as rapidly as the soil can absorb the water.
  96. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  97. Select the proper size pans for cooking. Large pans require more cooking water than may be necessary.
  98. Place an empty tuna can on your lawn to catch and measure the water output of your sprinklers. For lawn watering advice, contact your local conservation office.
  99. Turn off the water while you shave and you can save more than 100 gallons a week.
  100. When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
  101. If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
  102. To save water and time, consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.
  103. While staying in a hotel or even at home, consider reusing your towels.
  104. When backwashing your pool, consider using the water on your landscaping.
  105. For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
  106. Throw trimmings and peelings from fruits and vegetables into your yard compost to prevent from using the garbage disposal.
  107. When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don’t throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.
  108. Have your plumber re-route your gray water to trees and gardens rather than letting it run into the sewer line. Check with your city codes, and if it isn’t allowed in your area, start a movement to get that changed.
  109. Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.
  110. When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.

Source: Handbook of Water Use and Conservation, Amy Vickers