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  Household Use

Drinking Water







This section explores the different uses and disposal of water used both inside and outside the home.

Household Uses
What would your day be like without water? For starters, you couldn’t brush your teeth or go to the bathroom. Most drinks would be gone, which may be a bonus since you can’t use the bathroom! Forget about fixing your favorite "instant" foods, there’s no water. Dirty dishes, dirty clothes, dirty cars, and dirty kids would stay that way, dirty. Starting to get the picture?

Every day, we all rely on water for a wide variety of uses around the house, inside and out. According to the EPA, you use 50 gallons of water a day on average. Here's how it breaks down:
65% = bathroom, 15% = laundry room, 10% = kitchen, 10% = outdoors

Check it out!
Chart your day for all the different ways you use water. For example, how much water do you use cooking, cleaning, and bathing? Chart the water usage at your house. Are there ways to cut consumption?


Clean Water In and Dirty Water Out
No matter what you’re going to do with it — shower, wash dishes or do laundry — the water coming into your house is supposed to be clean enough to drink. That is, of course, if you get your water from a federally licensed water utility. The federal government sets standards that all utilities must meet to ensure a minimum level of safety. Some communities do more than the minimum standards require. Others may barely meet the minimum. Regardless, the regulations are supposed to make clean drinking water available to everyone on a water utility system.

Check it out!
Not everyone gets his or her water from a utility. Many people who live in rural areas drill their own wells. They bear the burden of testing their water to ensure its quality.




Inside Your Home
Once you’ve used that clean water, it becomes wastewater. If you use the water inside your house, it goes down the drain, out of your house, and on to a wastewater reclamation facility. These facilities treat water so that it’s safe enough to return to the water cycle. Just what sort of stuff gets treated? Sewage is of course the biggest concern. Beyond sewage, just think of all the soaps and detergents and cleaners you use around the house. All of that is in wastewater, and all of it needs to considered for treatment.

Outside Your Home
The water you use outside of your house is a much different story. That water doesn’t go to a treatment facility. Some of it simply evaporates, leaving everything else behind. Or it can become surface runoff, carrying waste with it as it eventually finds its way back into surface water sources like rivers, lakes and streams. Another possibility: it can infiltrate the ground where it could move into groundwater sources.



Explore More: Water Quality
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.