Getting the most out of every drop

It is without doubt that Americans must reduce their demand on natural water sources. Our population is increasing every second, but our water sources are not. As a matter of fact, some water sources are actually shrinking on a daily basis. So, how can we get the most out of our water? What if your house or business already has efficient fixtures? To answer this problem, we will look at the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. You reduce consumption by implementing efficient fixtures, such as showerheads, faucet aerators, and toilets.
In order to reuse water, we must figure out ways to capture water after we use it once, and harness it again to use a second¬¬ or even third time. Luckily engineers and environmental advocates have been working on this problem for many years. There are water catchment systems available that capture water once it has been used, and contain it for use at a later time.
For example, some people have small water containment systems under their sink that hold water from hand-washing , and pump it into toilets for a second use. Other systems may be significantly larger-they can be connected to shower drains, washing machines, and even dishwashers. As a result, these systems must have much larger tanks and sometimes pumps depending on the location.
These devices essentially are a large bin or tank in the plumbing line that contain water before it flows out to the sewer. Depending on the location, some of these systems are zero-energy systems; meaning they use gravity to push water into other locations or devices. The most common systems are under-sink systems that pump water into toilets, and larger versions to contain shower and washing machine water. Often these systems are connected to a series of large barrels to contain large amounts of water. This stored water can then be used to water landscape or fill toilets, etc.
However, it must be noted that special biodegradable soaps and detergents must be used if the water will be used to irrigate plants. Traditional soaps and detergents are typically chemical-based and are very harmful to plants. Biodegradable soaps are easily decomposed and broken down by microbes and bacteria in the soil.
To read more about innovative ways you can save water, visit
Brian O’Neill

Some little-known facts about bottled water

Did you know…
That the average price of tap water is $0.0015 per gallon, whereas bottled water is on average $10.00 per gallon.
Over 20% of tested bottled water contained chemicals above health limits.
Tap water is tested for e. coli, and is required to state the source, and provide quality reports. Bottled water isn’t.
17 million barrels of oil are used to produce the World’s supply of bottled drinking water. That is enough oil to fuel 1,000,000 cars for an entire year.
It takes 3 times as much water to create a bottle as it does to fill it. That means it takes 3 gallons of water to make every 1-gallon water jug.
Only one in every five water bottles are ever recycled.
40% of bottled water is taken from municipal water supplies. In other words, 40% of bottled water is bottled tap water. Why pay the difference?
For more information about exciting water issues, please visit
Brian O’Neill

How do aquifers work?

Since a significant portion of the U.S. drinking water is pumped from aquifers, it is important to understand what an aquifer is and how it works. Aquifers are underground basins that hold water. Aquifers are full of sediment such as silt, or larger material such as gravel and rocks. The water in aquifers is what fills the spaces between tiny silt particles or larger gravel pores. Aquifers are similar to bowls of cereal: the aquifer itself is like a giant bowl, that is full of “stuff” (rocks or sediment instead of cereal), with water filling the space between each piece of the sediment.
Aquifers are usually good options for water supplies because in natural systems, the water must first pass through hundreds—sometimes thousands—of feet of dirt and sediment before it enters the aquifer and is usable. Water often cannot be pumped out of the ground until it reaches the aquifers because it is not concentrated enough. In other words, there is not enough water per unit of sediment to efficiently pump it out. However, the water can easily be pumped out once it reaches an aquifer because it saturates the sediment.
The largest aquifer in the continental United States is the Ogalalla Aquifer. It reaches from South Dakota all the way south to Texas. The Ogalalla Aquifer held approximately 3,250 million acre-feet of water in 1980. As a result of over-drafting (pumping out more water than re-enters), the Ogalalla Aquifer has been steadily draining. Consequently, it becomes more energy-intensive to pump out water as the levels drop, and can create other problems such as sinkholes. In some places, the water level in the Ogalalla Aquifer has dropped more than 100 feet. The annual drop in water level from 1980 to 1999 was 3.2 feet. Without implementing water conservation measures, only time will tell how long our natural water sources will last.
Brian O’Neill
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