Water Water Everywhere
   Sound Water Use

Most of the Earth’s water is not readily available for human use. 97% of the Earth’s water is contained in our oceans, and 2% is frozen. We get the water we use from the remaining 1% which comes from two places: the Earth’s surface – (rivers, lakes and streams), or from groundwater.


Saving water is as important as keeping it clean. Water use in Washington has generally been extravagant, reflecting the assumption that our supplies are unlimited. New realities challenge that assumption. Conflicts over water resources are surfacing all over the state. The Puget Sound basin is no exception.

Legislation now requires home builders to prove that sufficient drinking water is available before a building permit is issued. Growth in central Puget Sound has forced water suppliers to consider new wells and stream diversions. Groundwater, the water we draw upon with our wells, is limited. The development of new surface water supplies is controversial due to conflicts with in stream water needs.

When we turn on the faucet, we expect clear, clean, and immediate water. We also expect our crops to be irrigated and the fish in our rivers to thrive. Industries that rely heavily on water, such as food processing and pulp and paper mills expect their water too. So do the utilities which supply energy to our communities. Fish and wildlife habitats need water to survive. Everywhere, the demand for water increases while the supply remains fixed.

Clearly, we must conserve water. Reduction in water usage saves more than the water itself. Water conservation helps protect Puget Sound by reducing the demand on septic systems and sewage treatment plants. When we use less water, the reduced volume entering our sewage treatment plants also needs fewer chemicals and the plants use less energy to operate. Conservation may reduce the need for new or expanded sewage treatment facilities. The tax dollars saved by not having to expand existing plants can be used to improve water treatment techniques.

Water conservation protects the streams of the Puget Sound watershed by reducing the need for diversions, maintaining water flows which support abundant aquatic life. Water conservation helps protect streams indirectly, as well. Since 20% of your home’s energy is spent to heat water, saving hot water means saving energy. Saving energy can help save the fish and wildlife habitat that would be lost if more dams and power plants have to be built.

Conserving water also saves you money if your water system is metered. If you now pay a flat rate for water use, yon can expect this to change as public utilities move to collect the costs of extra water usage. If your sewage treatment costs are based on water consumption, water conservation can save you additional money.

Every day, we each use some 100 gallons of water. Stop and think about how little of this you actually drink. Most of us can decrease water consumption in our homes by 15-20% without major discomfort or expense. All we have to do is acquire good water use habits.

Many of us developed our water use habits before the time of water shortages and water quality problems. Now that we understand the impacts of the way we use water, it should be easy to make water conservation a part of our everyday lives.

   Here are some tips to get you started….

Water use tips around the house and yard