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Environmental Science: How to Conserve Fresh Water

One way to meet the freshwater needs of both people and ecosystems is to practice water conservation. Water conservation is the process of using less water to begin with and recycling or reusing as much water as possible. The goal of water conservation is to maintain a freshwater supply that can meet the needs of as many people as possible for as long as possible.

Technological innovation has helped achieve much of the water conservation happening today. For example, water-efficient showerheads and toilets reduce the amount of household water used in many homes. A dual-flush toilet offers the user an option between a normal flush (approximately 2 gallons of water) for solid waste and a lighter flush (about 1 gallon) for liquid waste. Manufacturers are also producing more water-efficient washing machines and dishwashers.

Conserving water is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on local water resources. Here are some ways you can start conserving fresh water today:

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.

  • Wash only full loads of laundry.

  • Position sprinklers to water the lawn and garden, not the sidewalk or driveway.

  • Plant native shrubs and groundcovers rather than grass in your landscaping.

  • Allow your lawn to go dormant for a few months in the summer.

  • Compost food waste instead of using the garbage disposal.

  • Repair leaky faucets indoors and outdoors.

  • Install aerators on all your faucets.

  • Upgrade to more-water-efficient appliances, including toilets, showerheads, washing machines, refrigerators, and dishwashers.

  • Collect rainwater from your roof in rain barrels and reuse it to water your garden.

  • Rinse vegetables in a dish of water and then dump that water in your houseplants or garden.

Another approach to water conservation is to recycle fresh water within your home through a greywater reuse system. The term greywater refers to the wastewater from your sinks, showers, and washing machines (everything except your toilet water, which is considered sewage).

Although you can’t use greywater for drinking, you can use it to water your lawn or flush your toilet. A greywater reuse system filters your home’s greywater so that it can be reused for other domestic freshwater needs.

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