01/14/08 — What if there were water use restrictions?

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What if there were water use restrictions?

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on January 14, 2008 2:44 PM

Some of the suggestions Raleigh officials have proposed to prolong the city's water availability include decreasing use to 25 gallons per person per day.

That reduction is a far cry from what most people use on a daily basis which is 70 to 90 gallons of water, according to the American Water Works Association.

The average household uses 350 gallons a day, and two-thirds of indoor water usage comes from one room in particular -- the bathroom.

Goldsboro officials aren't ready to implement such a limit, but that doesn't mean that it won't be in the city's future.

So, how long does it take to use 25 gallons?

If you take a shower using a standard shower head, you will rack up 25 gallons in five minutes. Increase your sudsing to 10 minutes per day, and your water usage goes up to 50 gallons per shower.

Showering accounts for 16.8 percent of daily household water use, while baths, which use 1.2 gallons, only account for 1.7 percent, according to the AWWA.

Replacing the standard shower head with a low-flow one could save 2.5 gallons per minute, Goldsboro Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said. So instead of showering for five minutes, you could prolong your shower for five more minutes or use the 12.5 gallons you saved for other things, such as flushing the toilet.

Using a newer, low-flow toilet, each flush will cost you 1.6 gallons. With the 12.5 gallons left over from a short shower, you could flush the toilet seven times.

With an older toilet, however, 3.5 to 5 gallons are used per flush. Mrs. Brashear suggests placing a plastic container in the tank of older models to displace water to reduce the water used per flush without impairing efficiency. Commercial displacement devices are also available.

Even though toilets use minimal water per flush, in most homes, they count for 26.7 percent of daily household usage, according to the AWWA.

Faucets account for 15.7 percent of household use per day -- about 11 gallons.

Inexpensive aerators can restrict water from faucets to 1 to 2 gallons per minute, Mrs. Brashear said, and can save a few gallons daily.

Still, don't leave the water running while brushing your teeth. That can waste 5 gallons of water.

Leaks can become a major water waster. Taking up nearly 14 percent of daily family usage, leaks can waste 9.5 gallons per day.

But the second largest water hog in a household, next to showers, is the clothes washer, which accounts for 21.7 percent by using 15 gallons each day.

The dishwasher only uses 1.4 percent of daily household water, but it uses 6 to 8 gallons in a heavy-duty cycle. A normal or light cycle uses between 4 to 7 gallons.

Mrs. Brashear said only running both washers when they are full or washing dishes by hand without letting the water run will help to decrease water use.

"There are things one can do," she said. "It doesn't take much to help out and cut back."