use in our homes eventually finds its way back into the water cycle.
Do individuals have a responsibility to protect water quality for
others? Explore More about household water use and ways you can
make a difference.
much water do you use? According to the EPA, the average American
uses about 50 gallons of water in the household each day. Whether
you know it or not, with each water-related activity you do in and
around your home, you create .
You have the potential to harm the water quality for someone "."
Think about this: your drinking water was once somebody elses
wastewater. And your wastewater eventually becomes somebody elses
wastewater isnt just what you flush down the toilet. Its
what goes down after you take a bath, brush your teeth, do the laundry
or do the dishes. Its really anything that goes down a drain
in your house. Where does wastewater go? To a wastewater
, where what goes in must come out. Toothpaste,
detergents, soaps, shampoos, sewage, theyre all "pollutants"
that get removed before the water is returned to the water cycle.
Once water is treated and is safe to return to the water cycle,
it moves downstream for another community to use.
water choices inside your home makes water treatment cheaper and
easier for the wastewater reclamation facilities. Choose to properly
dispose of paint or toxic chemicals instead of dumping them down
the drain. Use environmentally friendly detergents and household
cleaners instead of chemically based cleaners.
do you think?
Can using less water improve water quality? How?
citizens often obtain their water from private wells instead of
a municipal water supply. Since they are "off the system,"
their wastewater does not go on to a treatment center. Instead,
it goes into a septic system. The wastewater is flushed into an
underground tank made of concrete, cinder blocks, or metal. The
solid wastes settle to the bottom while the floatable materials
rise. The somewhat cleaner liquid goes through an outlet into underground
rock-filled trenches. The wastewater slowly filters into the soil
where nature takes over. All the waste that remains in the septic
tank decomposes . Eventually, even these materials
must be removed and disposed.
do you think?
areas of the country have strict regulations on how close a
septic system can be placed to a water source. Can you explain
probably use water outside your house as well as inside. What you
do with water outside your house can have a much greater affect
on water quality because of one major difference. The water you
use in your house gets treated. The water you use outside probably
doesnt. The water you use outside to rinse your sidewalks,
water your lawn and wash the car doesnt get sent to the wastewater
treatment plant or septic tank. Instead, the water takes one of
- It can soak
into the ground. From here it can potentially
sources, possibly taking with it any pollutants it contains.
- It can drain
down sewers provided for stormwater runoff. These sewers usually
shoot water directly into rivers, streams, and lakes.
- It can become
runoff, flowing directly back to rivers, streams, and
lakes, potentially picking up a wide variety of non-point-source
pollutants on the way.
you make about water use outside your house probably have an even
greater affect on water quality than the decisions you make inside.
this: Its been a long, cold winter. The family car has a wicked
coat of dirt, grime, and street salts. On the first day of spring,
you are asked to give it a good wash. You rinse the car, then throw
the hose down on the lawn while you soap it up. You really lather
it up, rinsing and repeating according to directions. When youre
done, your car is sparkling like new. Whats wrong with this
picture? All the soap, dirt, salt, and muck that you washed off
ran right down a storm sewer and back into surface water. Remember,
water you use outside isnt captured by the wastewater treatment
cycle. What are your options?
- Use a bucket
instead of a hose to reduce the amount of water that you use,
thereby reducing run off.
- Use cleaners
that are easy on the environment.
- Clean the
car at a carwash, a business that must drain all its wastewater
to be treated by the wastewater treatment facility.
to Market Online Links
Bucks in Bottled Water."
Think bottled water is better? This Market to Market feature explains
that tap and bottled water may not be so different after all.
source pollution targeted by EPA
According to the environmental protection agency, or e-p-a, there
are more than 20,000 u.s. lakes, streams and rivers that fail to
meet current water quality standards, as defined by the clean water
act of 1972.
Betty Ann Bowser
reports on the
science and price of safe drinking water.
Drinking Water Amendment was signed by President Clinton in response to problems we have had
with our public water supplies. The legislation is supposed to make it easier for communities to
clean up our drinking water.