Even since the early days of the environmental movement, water conservation has been an important topic of conservation. Despite this, it’s also one that many people choose to ignore, at least until the prospect of drought forces it into the public eye. The problem is, to protect and preserve our water supplies, it’s crucial to consider these issues before they become serious problems.
Minnesota has some comprehensive water conservation laws that require state approval for large or increased water “withdrawal” and the practice of charging heavy water users more for the water they use is a powerful way of encouraging people to use less. And on a more individual level, there are many ways that homeowners can help to conserve and protect local water supplies. Conservation is everyone’s responsibility, and everyone has a contribution to make in ensuring that water doesn’t become a scarce resource.
Conservation: Reducing Your Water Usage
There’s a lot that homeowners can do to reduce the amount of water they use every day, and also to help preserve the quality of local waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American uses around 100 gallons of water every single day, but that most people can reduce their water usage by around 30%, by using water-efficient appliances, and installing fixtures that use less water. As well as this, the average family spends up to $500 a year on their water bill, but could save as much as $170 by using water more efficiently.
Installing new fixtures and appliances is definitely great for saving water, but if finances don’t allow, there are alternatives. Older-style fixtures aren’t necessarily water-efficient, but there are devices that can be installed onto most kinds of shower heads and faucets to reduce the amount of water that is used, without compromising on water pressure. These can be found at most DIY stores, and some energy companies provide their customers with free water conservation kits that include kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads. These devices are easy to install, and can reduce water usage by a significant amount. This not only helps to save water, but also helps homeowners cut their energy usage and save money on water and water-heating bills.
Another surprising statistic is that around 5% of American homes have at least one water leak, and the average leak means around 90 gallons of water wasted every day. That’s enough water for an entire person, and may add more onto the water bill than the cost of fixing the tap.
Preservation: Keep Old Medications out of Local Waterways
In terms of problems with water quality, it’s true that industrial manufacturing is the major culprit, but there’s another major problem that people can help solve in their own homes. The problem is the improper disposal of old medications, many of which find their way into landfills, or are discarded down the drain or toilet and end up in local waterways.
Everyone who uses prescription or over-the-counter medications can help solve this problem by ensuring that all their old medications are properly disposed of. The best and safest way to dispose of these old medications? Keep them somewhere safe until the next local “Take-Back Day,” and then return your unused medications to the designated collection location. To find out when your next area Take-Back Day is, call your local trash and recycling service.
If this option isn’t available in your area, the EPA suggests that unused medications be removed from their containers and mixed with an unpleasant substance like used coffee grounds or cat litter. Put the mixture in a disposable container, or seal the mixture in a plastic bag. Then, it’s safe to put the container or bag in the trash.
This ensures that kids and pets aren’t at risk of accidental poisoning, and prevents those old medications from entering local waterways.
References and Further Reading
Clean Water Action. A New Agriculture Movement Toward Clean Water. Accessed April 22, 2015
Conservation Minnesota. Is Minnesota Doing Right by its Water? Accessed April 22, 2015
Environmental Protection Agency: How to Dispose of Medicines Properly. Accessed April 22, 2015.
Kwikmed: The Environmental Impact of the Pharmaceuticals Industry, and the Way Forward. Accessed April 22, 2015
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Water Conservation. Accessed April 22, 2015
Minnesota Energy Resources: Free Water Conservation Kit. Accessed April 22, 2015
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Conserving Water. Accessed April 22, 2015
University of Minnesota: Conserving Water. Accessed April 22, 2015