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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.