Water conservation

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United States 1960 postal stamp advocating water conservation Water-conservation-stamp-1960.jpg
United States 1960 postal stamp advocating water conservation

Water conservation includes all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably manage the natural resource of fresh water, to protect the hydrosphere, and to meet the current and future human demand (thus avoiding water scarcity). Population, household size and growth and affluence all affect how much water is used. Factors such as climate change have increased pressures on natural water resources especially in manufacturing and agricultural irrigation. [1] Many countries have already implemented policies aimed at water conservation, with much success. [2] The key activities to conserve water are as follows: any beneficial reduction in water loss, use and waste of resources, [3] avoiding any damage to water quality; and improving water management practices that reduce the use or enhance the beneficial use of water. [4] [5] Technology solutions exist for households, commercial and agricultural applications. Water conservation programs involved in social solutions are typically initiated at the local level, by either municipal water utilities or regional governments.



The Aims of water conservation efforts include:


The key activities to conserve water are as follows:

One of the strategies in water conservation is rain water harvesting. [8] Digging ponds, lakes, canals, expanding the water reservoir, and installing rain water catching ducts and filtration systems on homes are different methods of harvesting rain water. Many people in many countries keep clean containers so they can boil it and drink it, which is useful to supply water to the needy. [8] Harvested and filtered rain water can be used for toilets, home gardening, lawn irrigation, and small scale agriculture. [8]

Another strategy in water conservation is protecting groundwater resources. When precipitation occurs, some infiltrates the soil and goes underground. [9] Water in this saturation zone is called groundwater. [9] Contamination of groundwater causes the groundwater water supply to not be able to be used as a resource of fresh drinking water and the natural regeneration of contaminated groundwater can take years to replenish. [10] Some examples of potential sources of groundwater contamination include storage tanks, septic systems, uncontrolled hazardous waste, landfills, atmospheric contaminants, chemicals, and road salts. [10] Contamination of groundwater decreases the replenishment of available freshwater so taking preventative measures by protecting groundwater resources from contamination is an important aspect of water conservation. [8]

An additional strategy to water conservation is practicing sustainable methods of utilizing groundwater resources. [8] Groundwater flows due to gravity and eventually discharges into streams. [9] Excess pumping of groundwater leads to a decrease in groundwater levels and if continued it can exhaust the resource. [8] Ground and surface waters are connected and overuse of groundwater can reduce and, in extreme examples, diminish the water supply of lakes, rivers, and streams. [10] In coastal regions, over pumping groundwater can increase saltwater intrusion which results in the contamination of groundwater water supply. [10] Sustainable use of groundwater is essential in water conservation.

A fundamental component to water conservation strategy is communication and education outreach of different water programs. [11] Developing communication that educates science to land managers, policy makers, farmers, and the general public is another important strategy utilized in water conservation. [11] Communication of the science of how water systems work is an important aspect when creating a management plan to conserve that system and is often used for ensuring the right management plan to be put into action. [11]

The conservation of water is extremely important in order to preserve wildlife habitats. There are many organisms in temperate regions who are affected by shortages in water. [12] Additionally, many freshwater organisms are increasingly feeling the impacts of water pollution as it disrupts the ecosystem. [12]

"World Water Day" is celebrated on 22 March. [13]

Social solutions

Drip irrigation system in New Mexico VineyardDrip.JPG
Drip irrigation system in New Mexico

Water conservation programs involved in social solutions are typically initiated at the local level, by either municipal water utilities or regional governments. Common strategies include public outreach campaigns, [14] tiered water rates (charging progressively higher prices as water use increases), or restrictions on outdoor water use such as lawn watering and car washing. [15] Cities in dry climates often require or encourage the installation of xeriscaping or natural landscaping in new homes to reduce outdoor water usage. [16] Most urban outdoor water use in California is residential, [17] illustrating a reason for outreach to households as well as businesses.

One fundamental conservation goal is universal water metering. The prevalence of residential water metering varies significantly worldwide. Recent studies have estimated that water supplies are metered in less than 30% of UK households. [18] Although individual water meters have often been considered impractical in homes with private wells or in multifamily buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that metering alone can reduce consumption by 20 to 40 percent. [19] In addition to raising consumer awareness of their water use, metering is also an important way to identify and localize water leakage. Water metering might benefit society by providing a financial incentive to avoid waste in water use. [20]

Some researchers have suggested that water conservation efforts should be primarily directed at farmers, in light of the fact that crop irrigation accounts for 70% of the world's fresh water use. [21] The agricultural sector of most countries is important both economically and politically, and water subsidies are common. Conservation advocates have urged removal of all subsidies to force farmers to grow more water-efficient crops and adopt less wasteful irrigation techniques. [22]

New technology poses a few new options for consumers, features such as full flush and half flush when using a toilet are trying to make a difference in water consumption and waste. It is also possible to use/"pollute" the water in stages (keeping use in flush toilets for last), hereby allowing more use of the water for various tasks within a same cycle (before it needs to be purified again, which can also be done in-situ). Earthships often use such a setup.

Also available are modern shower heads that help reduce wasting water: Old shower heads are said to use 5-10 gallons per minute, while new fixtures available use 2.5 gallons per minute and offer equal water coverage. [23] Another method is to recycle the water of the shower directly, by means a semi-closed system which features a pump and filter. Such a setup (called a "water recycling shower") has also been employed at the VIRTUe LINQ house. Besides recycling water, it also reuses the heat of the water (which would otherwise be lost). [24] [25]

Contrary to the popular view that the most effective way to save water is to curtail water-using behavior (e.g., by taking shorter showers), [26] experts suggest the most efficient way is replacing toilets and retrofitting washers; as demonstrated by two household end use logging studies in the US. [27] [28]

Water-saving technology for the home includes:

Smart water meters are also a promising technology for reducing household water usage. A study conducted in Valencia, Spain, shows the potential that smart meter-based water consumption feedback has for conserving water in households. The findings showed that households that were equipped with smart water meters increased their water savings. This technology works to show people how much water they were using in their household, suggest ways they can reduce water usage, and incentivize water savings with physical rewards. [29]

Commercial applications

Many water-saving devices (such as low-flush toilets) that are useful in homes can also be useful for business water saving. Other water-saving technology for businesses includes:

It is important to consider implementing water-conserving changes to industrial and commercial application use. It was found that high-income countries use roughly 59% of their water for industrial usage while low-income countries use 8% for industrial usage. [30] One big change that industrial and commercial companies can implement are to improve the assessment and maintenance of water systems. [31] It is easy to add water-efficient applications but it is the proper maintenance and inspection of it which will lead to long-term changes. A water conservation plan can be created, including adding various goals and benchmarks for both the employees and the company. [31] Another change that industrial and commercial companies can make are to check water-consuming systems at regular intervals for any leaks or problems. [31] By doing this, it will ensure that water is not unnecessarily being lost and there is no excess money being spent on utility bills. A third change that industrial and commercial companies can implement is installing a rain sensor. This sensor should be able to detect when precipitation is occurring and stop the program which would normally irrigate the land. After the rain ends, the sensor should turn the program back on and resume to its normal watering cycle. [32]

Agricultural applications

Overhead irrigation, center pivot design PivotIrrigationOnCotton.jpg
Overhead irrigation, center pivot design

Water is an essential part of irrigation. Plants always take a lot of ground water thus ground water should be replenished. For crop irrigation, optimal water efficiency means minimizing losses due to evaporation, runoff or subsurface drainage while maximizing production. [33] An evaporation pan in combination with specific crop correction factors can be used to determine how much water is needed to satisfy plant requirements. Flood irrigation, the oldest and most common type, is often very uneven in distribution, as parts of a field may receive excess water in order to deliver sufficient quantities to other parts. Overhead irrigation, using center-pivot or lateral-moving sprinklers, has the potential for a much more equal and controlled distribution pattern. Drip irrigation is the most expensive and least-used type, but offers the ability to deliver water to plant roots with minimal losses. However, drip irrigation is increasingly affordable, especially for the home gardener and in light of rising water rates. Using drip irrigation methods can save up to 30,000 gallons of water per year when replacing irrigation systems that spray in all directions. [34] There are also cheap effective methods similar to drip irrigation such as the use of soaking hoses that can even be submerged in the growing medium to eliminate evaporation.

As changing irrigation systems can be a costly undertaking, conservation efforts often concentrate on maximizing the efficiency of the existing system. This may include chiselling compacted soils, creating furrow dikes to prevent runoff, and using soil moisture and rainfall sensors to optimize irrigation schedules. [19] Usually large gains in efficiency are possible through measurement and more effective management of the existing irrigation system. The 2011 UNEP Green Economy Report notes that "[i]mproved soil organic matter from the use of green manures, mulching, and recycling of crop residues and animal manure increases the water holding capacity of soils and their ability to absorb water during torrential rains", [35] which is a way to optimize the use of rainfall and irrigation during dry periods in the season.

As seen in China, plastic mulch also has the potential to conserve water in agricultural practices. The "mulch" is really a thin sheet of plastic that is placed over the soil. There are holes in the plastic for the plants to grow through. Some studies have shown that plastic mulch conserves water by reducing the evaporation of soil moisture, however, there haven't been enough applied studies to determine the total water savings that this practice may bring about. [36]

Water reuse

Water shortage has become an increasingly difficult problem to manage. More than 40% of the world's population live in a region where the demand for water exceeds its supply. The imbalance between supply and demand, along with persisting issues such as climate change and population growth, has made water reuse a necessary method for conserving water. [37] There are a variety of methods used in the treatment of waste water to ensure that it is safe to use for irrigation of food crops and/or drinking water.

Seawater desalination requires more energy than the desalination of fresh water. Despite this, many seawater desalination plants have been built in response to water shortages around the world. This makes it necessary to evaluate the impacts of seawater desalination and to find ways to improve desalination technology. Current research involves the use of experiments to determine the most effective and least energy intensive methods of desalination. [38] [39] [40]

Sand filtration is another method used to treat water. Recent studies show that sand filtration needs further improvements, but it is approaching optimization with its effectiveness at removing pathogens from water. [41] [42] Sand filtration is very effective at removing protozoa and bacteria, but struggles with removing viruses. [43] Large-scale sand filtration facilities also require large surface areas to accommodate them.

The removal of pathogens from recycled water is of high priority because wastewater always contains pathogens capable of infecting humans. The levels of pathogenic viruses have to be reduced to a certain level in order for recycled water to not pose a threat to human populations. Further research is necessary to determine more accurate methods of assessing the level of pathogenic viruses in treated wastewater. [44]

Problem areas

Wasting of water

Leaking garden hose bib Leaking garden hose bib.jpg
Leaking garden hose bib

Wasting of water is the flip side of water conservation and, in household applications, it means causing or permitting discharge of water without any practical purpose. Inefficient water use is also considered wasteful. By EPA estimate, household leaks in the US can waste approximately 900 billion gallons (3.4 billion cubic meters) of water annually nationwide. [45] Generally, water management agencies are reluctant or unwilling to give a concrete definition to a relatively vague concept of water waste. [46]

However, definition of water waste is often given in local drought emergency ordinances. One example refers to any acts or omissions, whether willful or negligent, that are "causing or permitting water to leak, discharge, flow or run to waste into any gutter, sanitary sewer, watercourse or public or private storm drain, or to any adjacent property, from any tap, hose, faucet, pipe, sprinkler, pond, pool, waterway, fountain or nozzle." [47] In this example, the city code also clarifies that "in the case of washing, "discharge," "flow" or "run to waste" means that water in excess of that necessary to wash, wet or clean the dirty or dusty object, such as an automobile, sidewalk, or parking area, flows to waste.

Water utilities (and other media sources) often provide listings of wasteful water-use practices and prohibitions of wasteful uses. Examples include utilities in San Antonio, Texas. [48] Las Vegas, Nevada, [49] California Water Service company in California, [50] and City of San Diego, California. [51] The City of Palo Alto in California enforces permanent water use restrictions on wasteful practices such as leaks, runoff, irrigating during and immediately after rainfall, and use of potable water when non-potable water is available. [52] Similar restrictions are in effect in the State of Victoria, Australia. [53] Temporary water use bans (also known as "hosepipe bans") are used in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [54]

Strictly speaking, water that is discharged into the sewer, or directly to the environment is not wasted or lost. It remains within the hydrologic cycle and returns to the land surface and surface water bodies as precipitation. However, in many cases, the source of the water is at a significant distance from the return point and may be in a different catchment. The separation between extraction point and return point can represent significant environmental degradation in the watercourse and riparian strip. What is "wasted" is the community's supply of water that was captured, stored, transported and treated to drinking quality standards. Efficient use of water saves the expense of water supply provision and leaves more fresh water in lakes, rivers and aquifers for other users and also for supporting ecosystems. For example, we should not treat toilet as a trash can. If we flush cigarette butts or tissues in it, we are wasting gallons of water. Because the process of recycling water cannot be accomplished. [55]

A concept that is closely related to water wasting is "water-use efficiency". Water use is considered inefficient if the same purpose of its use can be accomplished with less water. Technical efficiency derives from engineering practice where it is typically used to describe the ratio of output to input and is useful in comparing various products and processes. [56] For example, one showerhead would be considered more efficient than another if it could accomplish the same purpose (i.e., of showering) by using less water or other inputs (e.g., lower water pressure). The technical efficiency concept is not useful in making decisions of investing money (or resources) in water conservation measures unless the inputs and outputs are measured in value terms. This expression of efficiency is referred to as economic efficiency and is incorporated into the concept of water conservation.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Desalination</span> Removal of salts from water

Desalination is a process that takes away mineral components from saline water. More generally, desalination refers to the removal of salts and minerals from a target substance, as in soil desalination, which is an issue for agriculture. Saltwater is desalinated to produce water suitable for human consumption or irrigation. The by-product of the desalination process is brine. Desalination is used on many seagoing ships and submarines. Most of the modern interest in desalination is focused on cost-effective provision of fresh water for human use. Along with recycled wastewater, it is one of the few rainfall-independent water resources.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greywater</span> Type of wastewater generated in households without toilet wastewater

Greywater refers to domestic wastewater generated in households or office buildings from streams without fecal contamination, i.e., all streams except for the wastewater from toilets. Sources of greywater include sinks, showers, baths, washing machines or dishwashers. As greywater contains fewer pathogens than blackwater, it is generally safer to handle and easier to treat and reuse onsite for toilet flushing, landscape or crop irrigation, and other non-potable uses. Greywater may still have some pathogen content from laundering soiled clothing or cleaning the anal area in the shower or bath.

Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce the use of Earth's natural resources by an individual or society. Its practitioners often attempt to reduce their ecological footprint by altering their home designs and methods of transportation, energy consumption and diet. Its proponents aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, naturally balanced, and respectful of humanity's symbiotic relationship with the Earth's natural ecology. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living closely follows the overall principles of sustainable development.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reclaimed water</span> Converting wastewater into water that can be reused for other purposes

Water reclamation is the process of converting municipal wastewater (sewage) or industrial wastewater into water that can be reused for a variety of purposes. Types of reuse include: urban reuse, agricultural reuse (irrigation), environmental reuse, industrial reuse, planned potable reuse, de facto wastewater reuse. For example, reuse may include irrigation of gardens and agricultural fields or replenishing surface water and groundwater. Reused water may also be directed toward fulfilling certain needs in residences, businesses, and industry, and could even be treated to reach drinking water standards. The injection of reclaimed water into the water supply distribution system is known as direct potable reuse, however, drinking reclaimed water is not a typical practice. Treated municipal wastewater reuse for irrigation is a long-established practice, especially in arid countries. Reusing wastewater as part of sustainable water management allows water to remain as an alternative water source for human activities. This can reduce scarcity and alleviate pressures on groundwater and other natural water bodies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rainwater harvesting</span> Accumulation of rainwater for reuse

Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is the collection and storage of rain, rather than allowing it to run off. Rainwater is collected from a roof-like surface and redirected to a tank, cistern, deep pit, aquifer, or a reservoir with percolation, so that it seeps down and restores the ground water. Dew and fog can also be collected with nets or other tools. Rainwater harvesting differs from stormwater harvesting as the runoff is typically collected from roofs and other surfaces for storage and subsequent reuse. Its uses include watering gardens, livestock, irrigation, domestic use with proper treatment, and domestic heating. The harvested water can also be committed to longer-term storage or groundwater recharge.

Water supply and sanitation in the United States involves a number of issues including water scarcity, pollution, a backlog of investment, concerns about the affordability of water for the poorest, and a rapidly retiring workforce. Increased variability and intensity of rainfall as a result of climate change is expected to produce both more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious consequences for water supply and for pollution from combined sewer overflows. Droughts are likely to particularly affect the 66 percent of Americans whose communities depend on surface water. As for drinking water quality, there are concerns about disinfection by-products, lead, perchlorates, PFAS and pharmaceutical substances, but generally drinking water quality in the U.S. is good.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Water efficiency</span>

Water efficiency is the practice of reducing water consumption by measuring the amount of water required for a particular purpose and is proportionate to the amount of essential water used. Water efficiency differs from water conservation in that it focuses on reducing waste, not restricting use. Solutions for water efficiency not only focus on reducing the amount of potable water used but also on reducing the use of non-potable water where appropriate. It also emphasizes the influence consumers can have on water efficiency by making small behavioral changes to reduce water wastage, and by choosing more water-efficient products.

Water supply and sanitation in Saudi Arabia is characterized by challenges and achievements. One of the main challenges is water scarcity. In order to overcome water scarcity, substantial investments have been undertaken in seawater desalination, water distribution, sewerage and wastewater treatment. Today about 50% of drinking water comes from desalination, 40% from the mining of non-renewable groundwater and only 10% from surface water in the mountainous southwest of the country. The capital Riyadh, located in the heart of the country, is supplied with desalinated water pumped from the Arabian Gulf over a distance of 467 km. Water is provided almost for free to residential users. Despite improvements, service quality remains poor, for example in terms of continuity of supply. Another challenge is weak institutional capacity and governance, reflecting general characteristics of the public sector in Saudi Arabia. Among the achievements is a significant increases in desalination, and in access to water, the expansion of wastewater treatment, as well as the use of treated effluent for the irrigation of urban green spaces, and for agriculture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">EPA WaterSense</span>

WaterSense is a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), designed to encourage water efficiency in the United States through the use of a special label on consumer products. The goal of this program is to protect the future of the U.S. water supply. WaterSense maintains partnerships with key utility, manufacturer and retail partners across the United States. WaterSense is voluntary, rather than a regulatory program. The EPA develops specifications for water-efficient products – low-flow fixtures – through a public process. If a manufacturer makes a product that meets those specifications, the product is eligible for third-party testing to ensure the stated efficiency and performance criteria have been met. If the product passes the test, the manufacturer is rewarded with the right to put the WaterSense label on that product.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sewage treatment</span> Process of removing contaminants from municipal wastewater

Sewage treatment is a type of wastewater treatment which aims to remove contaminants from sewage to produce an effluent that is suitable to discharge to the surrounding environment or an intended reuse application, thereby preventing water pollution from raw sewage discharges. Sewage contains wastewater from households and businesses and possibly pre-treated industrial wastewater. There are a high number of sewage treatment processes to choose from. These can range from decentralized systems to large centralized systems involving a network of pipes and pump stations which convey the sewage to a treatment plant. For cities that have a combined sewer, the sewers will also carry urban runoff (stormwater) to the sewage treatment plant. Sewage treatment often involves two main stages, called primary and secondary treatment, while advanced treatment also incorporates a tertiary treatment stage with polishing processes and nutrient removal. Secondary treatment can reduce organic matter from sewage,  using aerobic or anaerobic biological processes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Water resources</span> Sources of water that are potentially useful

Water resources are natural resources of water that are potentially useful for humans, for example as a source of drinking water supply or irrigation water. 97% of the water on the Earth is salt water and only three percent is fresh water; slightly over two thirds of this is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining unfrozen freshwater is found mainly as groundwater, with only a small fraction present above ground or in the air. Natural sources of fresh water include surface water, under river flow, groundwater and frozen water. Artificial sources of fresh water can include treated wastewater and desalinated seawater. Human uses of water resources include agricultural, industrial, household, recreational and environmental activities.

Water supply and sanitation in Israel are intricately linked to the historical development of Israel. Because rain falls only in the winter, and largely in the northern part of the country, irrigation and water engineering are considered vital to the country's economic survival and growth. Large scale projects to desalinate seawater, direct water from rivers and reservoirs in the north, make optimal use of groundwater, and reclaim flood overflow and sewage have been undertaken. Among them is the National Water Carrier, carrying water from the country's biggest freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee, to the northern part of the Negev desert through channels, pipes and tunnels. Israel's water demand today outstrips available conventional water resources. Thus, in an average year, Israel relies for about half of its water supply on unconventional water resources, including reclaimed water and desalination. A particularly long drought in 1998–2002 had prompted the government to promote large-scale seawater desalination. In 2022, 85% of the country's drinkable water was produced through desalination of saltwater and brackish water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sewage</span> Wastewater that is produced by a community of people

Sewage is a type of wastewater that is produced by a community of people. It is typically transported through a sewer system. Sewage consists of wastewater discharged from residences and from commercial, institutional and public facilities that exist in the locality. Sub-types of sewage are greywater and blackwater. Sewage also contains soaps and detergents. Food waste may be present from dishwashing, and food quantities may be increased where garbage disposal units are used. In regions where toilet paper is used rather than bidets, that paper is also added to the sewage. Sewage contains macro-pollutants and micro-pollutants, and may also incorporate some municipal solid waste and pollutants from industrial wastewater.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waste</span> Unwanted or unusable materials

Waste are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product, by contrast is a joint product of relatively minor economic value. A waste product may become a by-product, joint product or resource through an invention that raises a waste product's value above zero.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reuse of human excreta</span> Safe, beneficial use of human excreta mainly in agriculture (after treatment)

Reuse of human excreta is the safe, beneficial use of treated human excreta after applying suitable treatment steps and risk management approaches that are customized for the intended reuse application. Beneficial uses of the treated excreta may focus on using the plant-available nutrients that are contained in the treated excreta. They may also make use of the organic matter and energy contained in the excreta. To a lesser extent, reuse of the excreta's water content might also take place, although this is better known as water reclamation from municipal wastewater. The intended reuse applications for the nutrient content may include: soil conditioner or fertilizer in agriculture or horticultural activities. Other reuse applications, which focus more on the organic matter content of the excreta, include use as a fuel source or as an energy source in the form of biogas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rainwater harvesting in Canada</span>

Rainwater harvesting is becoming a procedure that many Canadians are incorporating into their daily lives, although data does not give exact figures for implementation. Rainwater can be used for a number of purposes including stormwater reduction, irrigation, laundry and portable toilets. In addition to low costs, rainwater harvesting is useful for landscape irrigation. Many Canadians have started implementing rainwater harvesting systems for use in stormwater reduction, irrigation, laundry, and lavatory plumbing. Provincial and municipal legislation is in place for regulating the rights and uses for captured rainwater. Substantial reform to Canadian law since the mid-2000s has increased the use of this technology in agricultural, industrial, and residential use, but ambiguity remains amongst legislation in many provinces. Bylaws and local municipal codes often regulate rainwater harvesting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vermifilter</span> Aerobic treatment system, consisting of a biological reactor containing media

A vermifilter is an aerobic treatment system, consisting of a biological reactor containing media that filters organic material from wastewater. The media also provides a habitat for aerobic bacteria and composting earthworms that purify the wastewater by removing pathogens and oxygen demand. The "trickling action" of the wastewater through the media dissolves oxygen into the wastewater, ensuring the treatment environment is aerobic for rapid decomposition of organic substances.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Water reuse in California</span>

Water reuse in California is the use of reclaimed water for beneficial use. As a heavily populated state in the drought-prone arid west, water reuse is developing as an integral part of water in California enabling both the economy and population to grow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Residential water use in the U.S. and Canada</span>

Residential water use includes all indoor and outdoor uses of drinking quality water at single-family and multifamily dwellings. These uses include a number of defined purposes such as flushing toilets, washing clothes and dishes, showering and bathing, drinking, food preparation, watering lawns and gardens, and maintaining swimming pools. Some of these end uses are detectable while others are more difficult to gauge.

A low-flow fixture is a water saving plumbing fixture designed to achieve water savings by having a lower flow rate of water or a smaller quantity per flush. Some of these low-flow fixtures are faucets, showerheads, and toilets. In the United States a maximum water usage of conventional plumbing fixtures was federally mandated by the Energy policy act of 1992. Low-flow fixtures are designed to save water over conventional fixtures by having a lower flow rate while still maintaining satisfactory performance. The Environmental protection agency (EPA) WaterSense program has requirements for plumbing fixtures to achieve their definition for water saving low-flow.


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Further reading