Avoid Wasting Water While You’re Home Due to COVID-19

With shelter in place orders in effect throughout the country due to COVID-19, more people are at home now than ever before. For the last eight weeks, 90 percent of individuals and families have occupied much of their time inside, and residential water usage has spiked across many parts of the nation.

Why Be Mindful?

During a time of economic uncertainty, it is important to be mindful of how much water we use, specifically to keep utility bills low and to reduce waste. While it is inevitable that our water usage will go up while being at home, we should be consciously aware of where and how we use water.

What Products Use the Most Water?

Before you begin thinking about your water usage, it’s important to understand which household items use it the most.

Outdoor Irrigation Systems – with spring in bloom, many people are landscaping their yards. Planting grass and flowers, and even dealing with weeds requires a lot of water. In fact, 30 percent of water consumption within the home comes from water irrigation systems. Check out a previous blog post on saving water in your yard.

Toilets -Toilets account for about 20 percent of water usage in the home. Many newer toilets are designed with water conservation in mind, but if you live in an older home with original fixtures, you could be using up to 50 gallons (or more) a day just by flushing the toilet.

Washing Machines – Washing machines make up roughly 15 percent of in-home water usage. Newer machines use 15-30 gallons per wash, but older machines can use up to 45 gallons.

Showers – Showers account for about 12 percent of household water usage. For families of two or more, this number can increase.

Faucets – Sinks and bathroom faucets make up another 11 percent of water usage, with an additional 13 percent come from leaks.

Reducing Wasted Water

With the above water usages in mind, learn how you can stop wasting water while you’re home due to COVID-19.

Watch out for leaks – check your sinks, faucets, toilets, and other pipes to assure that there are no leaks. Leaky pipes can seem harmless, but over time, hundreds of gallons of water go to waste.

Take shorter showers – Did you know that by cutting your shower time by just two minutes a day can save nearly 2,000 gallons of water each year?

Turn off water when brushing teeth – When you start your teeth brushing, be sure to only use the faucet when it’s time to rinse.

Hand wash your dishes – If you can avoid using your dishwasher daily, you can save up to 3 gallons of water per day.

Be mindful with lawn care – Watering your grass in the early morning or late evening will avoid the chance of it evaporating during the middle of the day.

While we may not have all the answers when it comes to COVID-19, these simple strategies will save water and money during the pandemic.

Water Crisis Infographic

Water is the common denominator for every living thing on earth. Without it, we simply cannot survive.

But even though this resource is so critical, 785 million people around the world lack access to safe water. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the #4 global risk in terms of impact to society.

Learn more about the water crisis in the water crisis infographic below as well as ways in which you can help.

Click here to download the full, PDF version of the Water Crisis Infographic.

In The Know: The Water Sector & Coronavirus

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been making updates to keep citizens abreast of all information concerning coronavirus and its effects on drinking water and wastewater.

The Facts from WEF

  • To date, there is no epidemiological evidence of viable COVID-19 virus in wastewater systems.
  • It appears that contracting COVID-19 through exposure to wastewater is unlikely.

WEF is working to keep wastewater workers protected from disease causing microorganisms and pathogens by forming a Blue Ribbon Panel to address the issue of required PPE as well as protective work and hygiene practices.

The Facts from CDC

  • There is no evidence that coronavirus survives the disinfection process for drinking water and wastewater.
    • The virus has not been detected in drinking water
    • Risk of transmission through feces is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses including SARS and MERS
    • Risk of transmission through sewerage systems is thought to be low
  • No coronavirus-specific protections are required for employees involved in wastewater management operations, including those working at wastewater treatment facilities.
    • Workers should follow their routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater as they normally would. This includes using engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE that is typically required when handling untreated wastewater.
    • Water workers should continue:
      • Wearing appropriate protective gear including gloves, boots, goggles, or face shield masks
      • Washing hands frequently
      • Avoiding touching of the nose, eyes, and mouth

For more information specifically related to the water sector during the pandemic, visit the WEF website here.

The following resources are also available to the public:

  • WEF Executive Round Table Series – Round table discussions (on video) on how the virus is affecting operations, business, and people, as well as the impacts and future changes on the workforce, productivity, projects, communication, and more. Each round table will be hosted by Walt Marlowe, WEF Executive Director.
  • Biological Hazards Resource – Access Water, powered by WEF, has a manual on the Safety, Health and Security of Wastewater Systems. The chapter “Biological Hazards at Wastewater Treatment Facilities” is available for free, and the whole manual is being offered at 50 percent off its original price.
  • Assistance for Worker Safety – Several water sector partners have offered their assistance to WEF to provide products to protect and maintain the health of water sector workers. Interested in helping? Click here to get in touch with WEF to learn how you can assist.
  • Webinars – there are several webinars available surrounding coronavirus subjects and the effect on the water sector. View them all here.

Please keep in mind that as the nature of the virus evolves, so too does the information and resources. Be sure to check back on the WEF website for daily updates.