We use water every day, from drinking water to personal hygiene. The water used in just one day of hygiene practices such as brushing our teeth, showering, and washing our clothes add up to approximately 50 gallons of water. Access to water is a crucial part of life. It takes gallons of water every day to fulfill all of our water needs. This is a lot of water, so where does it come from?
In the Palouse, the cities of Pullman and Moscow share the Grande Ronde aquifer. Both of these towns have a high population density. The amount of water used in these areas puts a lot of stress on the Grande Ronde aquifer. With the current water usage, our aquifer is in trouble. The Grand Ronde aquifer is being drained faster than it can recharge. At this rate the water table is dropping about 1 foot a year.
If this aquifer runs out of water the Palouse does not have many other options for fresh water. The amount of agriculture in the Palouse and eastern Washington has caused problems for other groundwater sources. The Odessa aquifer which provides water to people in Odessa and Pasco is over-pumped from increased irrigation in agricultural sites. Other aquifers around the area are also at risk of pollution. The amount of fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals used in surrounding farms threatens Palouse water quality.
The lack of freshwater resources in the Palouse area is cause for concern. It is important to be cautious of the amount of water you use in every day activities. There are several easy ways to limit everyday water consumption.
Most people brush their teeth twice a day, and brushing your teeth uses about 4 gallons of water each time if you have the faucet running the whole time. One way to limit water waste while brushing your teeth is turning the faucet off while brushing. Only using water at the start and end of brushing could limit water waste to less than a gallon per brush.
Showering is one of the biggest wastes of water in the average person’s home. A 15-minute shower uses approximately 20 gallons of water. The best way to limit water use while showering is taking shorter showers and turning off the water when you’re not using it. Cutting your shower time to 5 minutes can save about 10 gallons of water. Turning off the shower for the couple minutes of washing your hair or body can save about 5 gallons per shower. These are simple tasks that can save your time and our aquifer.
Washing your clothes uses approximately 15-30 gallons of water per wash. The best way to limit water waste is using a water-efficient washing machine. If you don’t have a choice of washing machines, an easy step you can take is shortening the time of the wash and using cold water. Shortening washing times saves you time and saves water.
The most important way of limiting water waste is being aware. Being aware of the decreasing local freshwater availability is the easiest way to limit water waste. Turning the faucet off when you’re not using it, shortening shower time, shortening machine wash time saves you time and saves our aquifers. So next time you are using water, think about what you could do to improve your habits and limit your water usage.
~Written by Emily Hogan~