Water resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Although two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is water, less than one-half of one percent of that water is currently available for out use. As the U.S. population increases, so does out water use. Many regions are starting to feel the strain, as indicated by data on the overuse of groundwater and the intrusion of saltwater into many areas.
Water is a valuable resource in the Virgin Islands and most people already conserve water to some extent. Before we discuss water conservation. let’s discuss where our water comes from and the role energy plays in its production and use.
Water-Where does it come from in the V.I.?
The two main sources of water in the Virgin Islands are rain, which we collect in cisterns, and wells and from the Water and Power Authority (WAPA). When WAPA makes water they burn oil, so water has a direct relationship to energy.
The average person uses 50-100 gallons of water daily.
The following conservation methods can save 50% of the water used:
Even with a slow drip, dripping faucets can waste approximately 200-300 gallons of water a month. At 5 cents a gallon, it could cost you $10 to $17.50 a month or $120 to $210 a year. So fix all dripping faucets in your home.
Toilets with a bulb-flush mechanism can leak water and also waste electricity needed to pump water from cisterns. So why not fix it?
Older toilets use approximately four to six gallons of water per flush. Using water dams and/or water-conserving flush mechanisms save water. Another low-cost/no-cost way to save water when flushing is to place aplastic bottle with a small amount of rocks and water in the tank of your toilet (be sure it does not interfere with the flushing mechanism). These methods can save one to three gallons of water per flush. However, replacing older toilets with newer, low-flush toilets, eliminates the need to perform any of the water saving measures listed above.
Kitchen/Bath Sink Faucets
By using aerators or flow restrictors on faucets, one to two gallons of water a minute can be saved. An aerator screws on the end of the faucet spout. Flow restrictors reduce the amount of water flowing through the spout while increasing the water pressure by allowing air into the water.
The shower is one of the most difficult places to save water. You can use up to 50 gallons of water if you are not careful.
One way to save 30 – 90% of water is by installing low-flow shower heads. To take an energy-saving shower, simply wet your body, shut the water off, soap up, and then rinse off. By taking an energy-saving shower, you can save 40 of those 50 gallons of water.
Water can be saved in many more ways in your home. See if you can think of more ways to save water in your home. Remember, when you save water, you save money and energy.
Water Efficiency FAQS
Many facility managers feel that water efficiency is not appropriate for their facility. The following is a list of most common questions people have concerning water efficiency. Most are based on myths or false information.
“Water efficiency only included low flow fixtures”
Water efficiency covers much more than just low flow fixtures. Domestic fixtures do account for a significant portion of water use, but especially in areas with heavy landscape uses.
“Low flow fixtures don’t work.”
While it is true that many of the early model low flow fixtures had problems, it is no true today. In fact most models of toilets have been completely redesigned to flush on 1.6 gallon per flush or less. These new toilets have been tested in many cities across the country. Most surveys show that more than 80% of users are satisfied with their new low flow fixtures. in addition it has also been shown that widespread use of low flow fixtures has no impact on the waste treatment system.
“Water efficiency is only a concern for arid regions of the country.”
Over the last 5 years almost every region of the country has experienced water shortages. Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, Joined California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado in restricting water use. However, the states east of the Rockies are usually not constrained by the water availability rather by capacity for sewage treatment and water quality issues. In addition they have older rapidly deteriorating systems. These are just a few of the reason that Eastern water customers typically pay more for water and sewer than Western customers.
This means that even though the necessity for water efficiency may be greater in the West, the economics for efficiency are usually better in the east. Water rates are typically higher where there is no perceived shortage. In addition, the higher cost seems to be attributed to higher sewer rates.
“Water projects have long payback periods.”
Water efficiency technologies often have paybacks of six years or less. Many water efficiency measures not only save water but also save energy used in heating and pumping. ESCO’s, utilities and agencies are discovering that incorporating water efficiency as part of an energy program helps to buy down the overall cost of project. In one case, a utility was able to include an additional 15% of mechanical work by implementing water efficiency measures in comprehensive energy projects at Federal sites.