Are we using up all of our water?

As most of us are Human. 😉  We need water to stay alive. We also need this magical substance for hygiene, cooking, farming, making alcohol, and of course all of our Seattle water activities (fishing, sailing, paddle boarding, floating, riding on ferry boats, etc.). Considering everything we use water for and knowing less than 1% of the Earth’s water is available for consumption, you may wonder if we’re in danger of using it up. Well, here’s the quick and short answer from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

While population and demand on freshwater resources are increasing, supply will always remain constant. And although it’s true that the water cycle continuously returns water to Earth, it is not always returned to the same place, or in the same quantity and quality.

Key takeaways – water is not always returned to the same place, or in the same quantity, or quality. Basically, we’re not going to use it all up, but we need to be mindful that what we do to the water isn’t always natural.

How does the water flow to my tap?

Now we can ask questions like, “where is my water coming from,” and “where is my money going.”

In Seattle (and 22 other cities and utility districts), our primary source of water comes from 2 major watersheds. About 65% comes from Cedar River Watershed and about 35% comes from the Tolt River Watershed. The water embarks on a journey down the mountains to two treatment facilities for testing and treatment to ensure safety. Finally, after a thorough examination of the water, it travels through 1,900 miles of pipeline to your faucet.

Of course, the process is more complex than flowing water, which includes:

  • 2 protected mountain sources
  • 2 state-of-the-art water treatment facilities
  • 1,900 miles of pipeline
  • 13 reservoirs
  • 14 storage tanks
  • numerous pumping stations
  • over 600 employees (for testing, treating, repairing, monitoring, building, and protecting)
  • 1.4 million people to drink and use the water in their homes, businesses, and public facilities

So that’s where your water comes from, and hopefully gives you a better understanding of what you’re paying for. Which, by the way, bottled water is not as heavily regulated and can be up to 1,000 times more expensive than tap water.

Conserving saves money!

Now let’s talk about what you can do to conserve your Seattle water…and let’s save you some money while we’re at it.

Brushing your teeth

We all like the sound of water, but running it while you brush your teeth is unnecessary. Turning the water off as you brush your teeth could save, on average, 7 gallons per day.

Washing clothes

Wait to do laundry until you have a full washer.

Washing dishes

Did you know washing your dishes by hand can waste as much as 20 gallons of water? Invest in a dishwashing machine. Look for the ENERGY STAR endorsement.

Taking showers

Take short showers. Cutting your shower time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes can save 10-25 gallons of water!

Fixing leaks

Fix your dripping faucets and leaky toilets. An efficient faucet could save up to 570 gallons of water per year.

Finding Rebates!

In 2000, Seattle founded the Saving Water Partnership. The partnership is comprised of 19 local water utilities dedicated to providing water conservation programs to their customers in Seattle and King County. The Saving Water Partnership has helped Seattle and the nearby cities save 9.6 million gallons of water per day (from 2000 to 2010) and built some pretty awesome rebates (queue excitement).

Us Seattleites are pretty environmentally conscious and we do most of these things without a thought, but there’s always more we could do. What are some other water saving tips that you use? Share this article and include your tips, by clicking on the share button below.