Reduce your environmental impact and your utility bills

WaterGlasses_iStockANDNick-Schlax-_000001700462LargeMADISON —There’s no denying it: It’s hot out there! While clean and plentiful water is one of Wisconsin’s greatest natural resources, heat spells dramatically drive up water use. But we all have a duty to conserve this precious resource, even when the mercury’s on the rise.

Our state could face devastating shortages in the coming years. Last spring, the U.S. Geologic Survey released a federal analysis warning that the Great Lakes region could experience water shortages due to increased demand and climate shifts.

“Surrounded by lakes, rivers and streams it’s hard to imagine running out of water, but Wisconsin has already seen streams and lakes go dry as a result of overusing our groundwater,” says Melissa Malott, attorney and water program director at Clean Wisconsin. “Wisconsin has become a leader in water conservation in recent years; however, we can still do a lot more.”

The average person uses about 63 gallons of water a day. Here are 5 easy water-saving tips:

  1. Water smart: In the summer, outdoor watering can account for 60% to 70% of all household water use. Watering early in the morning helps reduce the water lost from evaporation. And water deep, not often, to encourage deep root growth and drought resistance.
  2. Get it washed: When your car is dirty, head to the carwash. Washing a car at home uses between 80 gallons and 140 gallons of water, while a commercial carwash averages less than 45 gallons per car. Plus, you won’t have to blister in the sun.
  3. Go low flow: Replace old shower heads with newer low-flow ones to reduce your household water usage by 45 gallons a day and about 16,000 gallons per year. Low-flow toilets save 25 gallons a day and 9,000 gallons a year. Look for the EPA WaterSense logo.
  4. Full loads: Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before running them to save water and electricity. If doing dishes by hand, fill up the sink instead of running water for each individual dish.
  5. Water pitchers: Keeping a pitcher of water in your refrigerator is a cheap and easy way to have ice cold water on hand. Turning on the tap for each glass wastes water as you wait for the tap to get cold. These are small savings, but it all adds up.

“It is estimated that by 2013 over 36 states in the United States will face water shortages, and that is a list Wisconsin does not want to be on,” says Malott. “Wisconsin uses 759 million gallons of groundwater each day; with simple conservation practices, we can meet our needs in a sustainable way.”