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The Three R’s of Water June 4, 2010

Posted by WaterWise Consulting in Landscape Water Use, Water & Business, water conservation, Water Footprint, Water Pollution, Water Reuse, Water/Energy Connection.
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Everybody has heard the environmental slogan of “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” in terms of garbage and recycling, but how does this apply to water usage? This slogan is actually just as pertinent to water usage as it is to garbage and recycling. The Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle slogan is often referred to as “The Three R’s” for short. Here are some ways that The Three R’s apply to water conservation and consumption:
Reduce
By reducing the amount of water we consume, we will lessen the amount of water that needs to be pumped out of the ground or moved from one location to another. After all, about 20% of the energy used in California goes directly to pumping water. California should also have more public funds available if our dependency on water transportation projects such as the Aqueduct was reduced. You can reduce your water usage by:
Retrofitting any inefficient fixtures in your home with efficient versions, such as showerheads, toilets, faucet aerators, dishwashing machines, and clothes washers.
Programming your irrigation timer to water only when needed. You can manually change your irrigation schedule or buy a weather-based irrigation controller which automatically adjusts your water budget to suit the current climatic conditions.
Fix all leaks-indoor and outdoor. Common locations for leaks include, but are not limited to dripping faucets, leaking toilets, and dripping hose bibs outdoors. You can check for leaks in your home by turning off all water using fixtures, and then looking at your water meter. If it is moving, you have a leak somewhere on your property.
Reuse
We can reuse the water that we consume by implementing “grey water” systems in our homes. Grey water systems capture water from devices such as faucets and shower drains. These systems do not connect to toilets because of sanitary issues. The grey water systems filter the water so that it can be re-used to wash hands, fill toilets, or even water your garden. However because of health issues, it is not recommended to shower or drink grey water.
Recycle
Although recycling water may seem very similar to reusing it, recycling is the act of converting used materials into forms that can be re-used as a new product. For example, waste water can be recycled and used as “fresh” water. Many treatment plants do not filter water to consumption-standards, so it cannot be reused as potable water. Recycled water is often being used to irrigate landscaping because it is cheaper than potable water. The technology exists to treat waste water to drinking water standards, but it is not often used because of the social stigma that you are consuming “sewage water.” The interesting fact is that some of these treatment plants actually make the water safer than bottled water!
Watch a video on the water cycle to learn more at: http://www.knowyourh2o.org/index.php
Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com

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