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Water Use Impacts

The clean, clear waters of the Delaware River, flowing for 330 miles from New York through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, provide drinking water to more than 15 million people and supports a variety of wildlife, from more than 60 species of fish to our national icon, the bald eagle. 

Average household uses of water, like washing clothes and showering, consume approximately 8% of our water supply. The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home, and roughly 70% of this use occurs indoors.  

Failure to protect and conserve our water resources can potentially lead to a variety of negative impacts on all of us.  Water prices could rise, restrictions may be put in place, wildlife could be threatened, and we could even see significant impacts to recreational areas like lakes and rivers.  By making a few simple choices at home, you can make a difference and help protect our water supply.


How We Use Water

There are two major ways each of us uses water. Our direct use is the water that we drink, bathe in and use from our sinks and faucets to wash our vegetables and our clothes and to water our plants and lawns. The chart to the right shows our direct water use at home.

Our indirect use is the water that is used to produce the goods and services we consume. For instance, did you know it takes 24 gallons of water to produce one pound of plastic and 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton tee-shirt! Learn more about surprising water consumers.

You can achieve greater levels of water conservation if you work to reduce both your direct and indirect uses of water.


perception vs. reality

We all want to do our part in reducing our water footprint. But do you know which activities are most effective?  In a recent paper on the most effective actions U.S. households can take to curb water use the authors found that Americans have severe misperceptions about which activities are the most effective to conserve water. On average, they thought they were only using half as much water as they really were.


Curtailment and Efficiency

You can reduce more of your water use by both adopting certain curtailing behaviors and also using efficient technologies.

Curtailing behaviors involve adjusting your daily habits of water use and repeating that action over time, like taking shorter showers or running the dishwasher less often.

Efficiency actions involve technology upgrades or modifications to fixtures and appliances, like installing a low-flow showerhead or an energy efficient dishwasher.

Learn about  the Water Short List that describes how the average household can reduce indoor water use by 60% by implementing six efficiency actions simultaneously with seven curtailment actions.


 


Clean Water Starts With You

Clean Water Starts with You from Endless Echo on Vimeo.

    The choice is clear...

    Clear Choices, Clean Water from Endless Echo on Vimeo.

      Want more info?

      The EPA has information on water supplies and shortages throughout the United States.

        Fun ways to engage kids

        To share water conservation with kids, try WaterSense for Kids

          What's a water footprint?

          A water footprint is the amount of freshwater that one consumes, both through direct water use and through indirect use, such as the water it takes to produce the goods one consumes.  You can find much more information on water footprints from the Water Footprint Network.

          To find out about your water footprint, check out this Water Footprint Assessment Tool

          A very user-friendly water footprint calculator can also be found at the Home Water Works site created by the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

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