Initiatives to reduce freshwater use, establish conservation programs and develop technologies that accomplish these goals are being pursued by industry, agriculture and governmental entities. Ultimately, however, it is the choice of the consumer to embrace a conservation mindset and employ the available programs and devices to achieve sustainable water use and minimize the pressure on this valuable resource that is so essential to life.
Some options for reducing water use are obvious. Behavioral modifications, such as shutting off the water while brushing teeth, taking shorter showers and irrigating crops and gardens based only on need require no monetary investment. Changes that do require a financial commitment are often modest, such as installing aerators on faucets, modified shower heads and water saving devices in the toilet tank. Significant investments may be required, however, to maximize conservation efforts. Washing machines and dishwashers that reduce water use can cost several hundred dollars more than their conventional counterparts. On a larger scale, some businesses, golf courses and apartment buildings have installed grey water systems, which allow them to recycle the water used for non-drinking purposes. This involves modifying their internal plumbing so that the water used from dishwashers, sinks and washing machines is stored so that it can be reused for non-potable purposes, such as flushing toilets or irrigation. Examples of where American Water has installed grey water systems include the Solaire apartment complex in New York City, the New England Patriots Gillette Stadium located in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and many golf courses.
A variety of modifications can reduce your water usage (and your water bill), but for some, that is not enough of an incentive. Instead, local regulations and, for some, resource use ethics are the driving factors. It is everyone’s responsibility to act responsibly and preserve our most precious resource: water.