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A Blue View: Every Drop Counts

by John Racanelli, Chief Executive Officer

Published February 27, 2013

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

February 27, 2013: Every Drop Counts

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance of responsible water use!

A lot of us take water for granted. We simply turn on a faucet, and there it is, in seemingly endless supply.

Freshwater, however, is not as plentiful as you might think. Yes, the world is 70 percent water, a staggering amount. Of that water, 97.5 percent is salt water. The rest, just 2.5 percent, is freshwater. And of that, less than 1 percent of the world’s freshwater is available for use by people.

According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population in the last century. Around the world, many people don’t have enough water. Even in the United States, water shortages as a result of drought or environmental issues are on the rise. In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that more than 1,100 U.S. counties—one-third of all the counties in the lower 48—now face higher risks of water shortages by 2050.

According to the National Geographic Society, the average person in America uses nearly 2,000 gallons of water per day. Only 5 percent of that, however, is traveling through your faucets or watering your lawn. In fact, the water consumption is hidden in the food, products and services you use every day.

Our diets in particular are responsible for the majority of our water consumption. Take milk, for example. Eight-hundred eighty gallons of water are required to generate that one gallon of milk sitting in your fridge. And getting beef on the dinner table is one of the biggest diet-related water consumers: every pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water. Even a cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water, due primarily to the water used to grow coffee beans.

To help consumers make more water-friendly choices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a program called WaterSense. This program certifies products and services that meet a set of water-conservation standards. Consumers can look for the WaterSense label on products like faucets, shower heads and toilets, and know it meets performance standards and is also 20 percent more water efficient than average fixtures! 

water sense label

If one in every 10 homes in the US installed WaterSense-labeled faucets, we could save 6 billion gallons of water per year.

Here are some ways YOU can conserve water: 

  • Calculate your water footprint to get a better sense of how much water you use per day. Awareness is an important first step in changing behavior!
  • Purchase water-friendly products for your home.
  • Live a water-conscious life: keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so you don’t have to wait for the tap to run cold; go meatless and/or dairy-free once a week; buy local; take quick showers instead of baths; and turn off the faucet while washing dishes and brushing your teeth!
  • Check the plumbing! It's estimated that each of us loses 10 gallons per day due to leaks.

If each of us just takes a few small steps to reduce our water consumption, we can make a big difference, not only in gallons but in the health of our planet’s finite supply of freshwater. 

Do you have any great tricks for conserving water? Share them with us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using #ABlueView!

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