PFAS – Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

PFAS – Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

Health Advisory Guidelines for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances Detected in Public Water Systems

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced in early June, and through the Office of Research and Standards (ORS), its recommendations on the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR 3) for emerging contaminants-specifically Perflourinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS).

PFAS or Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of man-made compounds that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perffluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perflouroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS).

US map of PFASAccording the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all these UCMR 3 PFAS compounds have been detected in public water supplies across the US. Since PFAS are considered emerging contaminants, there are currently no established regulatory limits for levels in drinking water. However, in 2016, the EPA set Health Advisory levels (HA) of 0.07 micrograms per liter (µg/L) or 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for the combined concentrations of two PFAS compounds, PFOS and PFOA.

MassDEP’s ORS established drinking water guidelines that follows the EPA’s recommendations for health advisory levels at 70 ppt, which applies to the sum total of five PFAS chemicals – PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHXS, and PFHpA.  And, if the level of contamination poses unacceptable health risks to its customers, Public Water Systems (PWS) must take action to achieve safe levels. They also must provide public notice.

The EPA and MassDEP’s recommended guidelines for PFAS include:

  • Public Water Suppliers take immediate action to reduce levels of the five PFAS to be below 70 ppt for all consumers.
  • Susceptible health-risk groups (pregnant women, infants, and nursing mothers) should stop consuming water when the level is above 70 ppt.
  • Public Water Systems must provide a public Health Advisory notice.

Water testingThe EPA also recommends that treatment be implemented for all five PFAS when one or more of these compounds are present.

Although, PFAS are no longer manufactured in the United States, PFAS are still produced internationally and can be imported in to the country1.  PFAS have been in use since the 1940’s and are persistent chemicals that don’t breakdown, accumulate over time in the environment and in the human body.  Evidence shows that prolonged exposure PFAS can have adverse effects on human health and the ecology.

PFAS can be found in:

  • Agricultural products grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water, and/or handled with PFAS-containing equipment and materials.
  • Drinking water contaminated from chemical groundwater pollution from stormwater runoff near landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and firefighter training facilities2.
  • Household products, including nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and stain and water-repellent fabrics.
  • Firefighting foams2, which is a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs.
  • Industrial facilities that manufactured chrome plating, electronics, and oil recovery that use PFAS.
  • Environmental contamination where PFAS have built-up and persisted over time – including in fish, animals and humans.

While most states are relying on the EPA’s Health Advisory levels (including Massachusetts), some, such as Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arizona, and Colorado have addressed other UCMR 3 PFAS pollutants as well.

Boy drinking waterMost research on the effects of PFAS on human health is based on animal studies. And, although there is no conclusive evidence that PFAS cause cancer, animal studies have shown there are possible links. However, PFAS ill-health effects are associated with changes in thyroid, kidney and liver function, as well as affects to the immune system.  These chemicals have also caused fetal development effects during pregnancy and low birth weights.

PFAS are found at low levels throughout our environment—in foods we consume and in household products we use daily. PFAS in drinking water at levels higher than the EPA’s recommendations does not necessarily mean health risks are likely. Routine showering and bathing are not considered significant sources of exposure. And, while it is nearly impossible to eliminate all exposure to these chemicals, the risk for adverse health effects would likely be of concern if an individual continuously consumed higher levels of PFAS than the guidelines established by the EPA’s Health Advisory.

MassDEP is continuing its research and testing for PFAS in Public Water Systems.  Large Public Drinking Water Systems have already been tested and sampling indicated that approximately 3% had levels of PFAS detected. MassDEP is currently working with smaller Public Water Systems to identify areas where PFAS may have been used or discharged to the environment.

As more information and regulations develop on this emerging contaminant, MassDEP will continue to communicate their findings. Tata & Howard is also available for any questions that may arise, as well as, assist with testing and recommend treatment options for our clients.

 

1 In 2006, the EPA and the PFA industry formed the PFOA Stewardship program to end the production of PFAs.

2 MassDEP in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (MassDFS), announced in May a take-back program to remove hazardous pre-2003 firefighting foam stockpiles and be neutralized. Manufacturers stopped making PFAS foam in 2002 and have since developed fluorine-free and more fluorine stable foams that are safer to the environment.

Donald J. Tata Honored Posthumously

Donald J. Tata Honored Posthumously

Water For People presents the Kenneth J. Miller Award

MARLBOROUGH, MA – Donald J. Tata was posthumously awarded the Kenneth J. Miller Founders Award presented by Water For People (WFP), a non-profit organization promoting the development of high-quality drinking water and sanitation services throughout the world. The ceremony took place on June 12, 2018 at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference and Expo (ACE18) held at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Award presentation
Karen M. Gracey, P.E. and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., Co-presidents with Tata & Howard accepted the award on Don Tata’s behalf.

Karen M. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., Co-Presidents with Tata & Howard, accepted the award on Donald Tata’s behalf.  “Don dedicated his career to improving the environment and he was particularly moved by Water For People’s efforts in bringing clean water to those in need,” Karen said. “He would be humbled by this nomination especially by an organization that meant so much to him.”

This year, Water For People expanded the Miller Award to include Workplace Giving Champions for which Don was recognized as a leader in the support of raising awareness to those in need of access to clean water.

Don Tata, who sadly passed away in 2017, was passionate about the environment and compassionate about the plight of those living in poverty without access to clean drinking water. He immediately supported the cause of Water For People when he was introduced to the organization through AWWA. Through Don’s fundraising efforts, Water For People has received over $66,000 since 2005.

WFPDon not only supported the Water For People organization individually, he also shared his passionate support with the employees of the firm he co-founded, Tata & Howard, Inc. Employees continue to support WFP through a payroll deduction program, which Don initiated. At the end of each year, the company matches the employee’s donations.

Employees also participate in friendly competitions throughout the year to increase awareness and raise funds in continued support for Water for People. Don was also responsible scheduling time at company meetings to have representatives from Water For People update employees with information on the countries and people directly affected by their contributions.

His family, friends and colleagues were all profoundly impacted by his death in 2017, and even then, during that most difficult time, his family asked people to donate to Water for People in his memory in lieu of flowers. His friends and associates did and donated over $4,500.

Don is greatly missed by all who knew him, and Tata & Howard is committed to continuing his legacy and support of Water for People.

###

About the Kenneth J. Miller Founders’ Award
The Kenneth J. Miller Founders’ Award was established in 2001 by the Board of Directors of Water For People to honor outstanding volunteer service to this international humanitarian effort. Water For People was conceived in response to the water, sanitation and health needs of millions of families living in the developing world.

The award was named to honor Ken Miller, who was one of Water For People’s founders, and supporter throughout his career. Each year, Water For People’s volunteer committees nominate one person for the award for the year. The winner is recognized and presented with a plaque at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference and Expo (ACE) during the Miller Award luncheon.

For more information: Kenneth Miller Award

About Water For People
From its beginnings, Water For People was envisioned to be a volunteer effort of the North American water and wastewater communities. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) leaders who organized Water For People believed that water professionals throughout North America would recognize the urgent need to support such a cause by contributing their financial assistance, organizational skills, and professional expertise. Local groups of water and sanitation professionals launched hundreds of active programs in support of Water For People. As the organization grew and began to accomplish its vision of service, it became evident that extraordinary volunteer efforts were being made at the local level and that this dedicated work needed to be publicly acknowledged and honored.

The search for a model individual to exemplify the value of volunteer service and to underscore the importance of this award led immediately to Kenneth J. Miller, one of the founders of Water For People and its first president.

For more information:  Water For People

About the American Water Works Association
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is an international nonprofit scientific and educational society dedicated to the improvement of drinking water quality and supply. Founded in 1881, AWWA is the largest and oldest organization of water supply professionals in the world. Its more than 50,000 individual members represent the full spectrum of the drinking water community: treatment plant operators and managers, scientists, environmentalists, manufacturers, academicians, regulators and others who hold a genuine interest in water supply and public health. Membership includes more than 4,000 utilities that supply water to roughly 180 million people in North America.

 For more information: AWWA

Outgoing Chair Passes the Gavel

Outgoing Chair Passes the Gavel

A New Chair at the Connecticut Section of the AWWA

Stephen K. Rupar, P.E. a Vice President with Tata & Howard, formally passed the gavel of Chair to his successor at the 47th Annual Joint Meeting of the Connecticut Section of the American Water Works Association (CTAWWA) and the Connecticut Water Works Association (CWWA).

Passing the Gavel
Outgoing Chair Steve Rupar passes the gavel to Jen Muir.

Jennifer K. Muir, P.E., President of JK Muir, accepted the position as Chair of the CT Section of the AWWA, during a ceremony held on May 23, 2018 at the Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club located in Brewster, Massachusetts.

Approximately 80 guests working in water utility management, board and committee members from both organizations, and other industry professionals attended the three-day conference.

Every year, CTAWWA members and volunteers strive to improve public health and welfare by advancing the technology, science and governmental policies relative to the public drinking water industry’s role in the stewardship of water resources. In partnership with the CWWA, the Annual Joint Conference features technical sessions, legislative updates, national speakers, as well as enjoyable opportunities to network with colleagues and friends.

During Steve’s 8-year tenure as a Board member of the CTAWWA, he served two separate terms as Chair—in 2015-16 and most recently in 2017-18. “Working collectively, the Board solved some very difficult challenges facing the organization,” Steve said. “We corrected our budget deficits by improving the management of our finances.  We also dealt with a common issue facing many of our members, retirement.  We successfully replaced several long-serving volunteers and staff members, including two executive managers, two treasurers, and one secretary, all while maintaining and improving service to our members.  In addition, with the help of many volunteers and board members, we worked long hours to advance the educational programming to keep our members informed on cutting-edge technology.”

A member of the AWWA since 1994, Steve will continue working with the Water Resources Committee and the Education and Program Committee at the CT Section of the AWWA.  He will also be active on the Board in his new role as ‘Past Chair’.  “Over the years, I have come to appreciate the incredible value this organization provides. I look forward to strengthening the technical and educational programming at the Annual Conference, guiding young professionals towards fulfilling careers in the water environment, and improving the quality of services to our members.”

The 2019 Annual Joint Meeting and Conference is currently planned for May 22-24 at a location to be named soon.

For more information about the Connecticut Section of the American Water Works Association visit: www.ctawwa.org

About the American Water Works Association

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is an international nonprofit scientific and educational society dedicated to the improvement of drinking water quality and supply. Founded in 1881, AWWA is the largest and oldest organization of water supply professionals in the world. Its more than 50,000 individual members represent the full spectrum of the drinking water community: treatment plant operators and managers, scientists, environmentalists, manufacturers, academicians, regulators and others who hold a genuine interest in water supply and public health. Membership includes more than 4,000 utilities that supply water to roughly 180 million people in North America.

The Connecticut Section – AWWA is comprised of those members who live and/or do business within the state of Connecticut. The CT Section membership is about 700 strong and represents more than 60 utilities that supply water to approximately 2.5 million Connecticut residents.

The Buzz about Honeybees and Water

The Buzz about Honeybees and Water

Signs of spring are everywhere.  Flowers are blooming, leaves are budding on trees, and sneeze-inducing pollen is abundant.

Pollinating bee
Honeybees are important pollinators.

Spring is also the start of beekeeping season.  As one of our most important pollinators for our food crops, the health and survival of honeybees is vital to our ecosystem.

Just like all living things, bees need food and water. Honeybees however, cannot simply turn on a faucet for a drink and they rarely store water. Instead, honeybees must forage for water, bringing it into their colonies as needed, as they do pollen, nectar and propolis for their survival.

How Bees Use Water

There are several uses for water in a bee colony.

For brood to develop properly, the hive requires a constant temperature of approximately 94°F and relative humidity of 50-60%. Worker bees spread gathered water droplets on the rims of honeycomb cells, on top of sealed brood, and along the hive walls. To regulate the temperature and humidity in the hive, bees will fan their wings to evaporate the water to cool the hive—similar to how we use air conditioners to cool our own homes in the summer.

Bee brood
Honeybees need water to feed developing brood.

Nurse bees, who feed the developing eggs, larvae and pupae, also have a high demand for water. The nurses attending the brood, consume copious amounts of water, pollen, and nectar so that their hypopharyngeal glands can produce royal jelly used to feed the eggs. As the larvae develops, they are fed diluted honey, nectar, and pollen.

Honeybees make honey as a means of storing food to eat. This is especially important in the winter months when bees can’t forage for nectar and rely on stored honey for food.  But before bees can easily consume honey, it first must be diluted. Bees add water to dilute honey to 50% moisture. Honey will also crystallize if the temperature drops below 50ºF.  Bees use water to dilute the crystals back into liquid before they can eat it.

Where Bees Find Water

Bees find water in a number of places, often lining up on the edges of birdbaths, mud puddles, damp rocks, branches, and drops clinging to vegetation. Foraging bees swallow the water and store it in their crops before flying home. The water is then transferred to waiting worker bees in the hive—a process known as trophallaxis—the direct transfer from one bee to another.

Drinking Bees
Bees line up on the edge of a bird bath for water.

It has been estimated that under really hot and dry temperatures, bees may bring back nearly a gallon of water each day to their hives.

As honeybees search for water, they often find water in agricultural areas—runoffs in ditches, culverts, or stormwater in waterways—that may contains insecticides, pesticides or fungicides.  Plants sprayed with pesticides or treated with systemic insecticides exude sap and form drops on the tips of stems and leaves that bees consume. These toxins, brought back to the hive can impair bee development, contaminate honey, and sadly, can completely destroy a bee colony.

Clean water supplies are essential for the operation and survival of honeybee colonies. 

Creating Water Sources for Bees

Fortunately, bees are not too picky about the type water they need. Bees tend to select the most fragrant, nutrient-rich water sources they can find. It could be the odor of mud, leaf tannin, mold, bacteria, or even chlorine from nearby swimming pools that attract bees. Minerals, salts, and other natural organic materials found in water adds important nutrients and vitamins to the bee diet.

Bees on Rocks
Provide plenty of rocks, sticks and other materials for bees to perch on while drinking water.

It is widely thought it is the scent of the source that helps bees find water. Foragers will also mark unscented sources of water with their bee pheromones to communicate to others where to find these resources.

Providing fresh sources of water is easy to do. Water can be left in shallow trays, birdbaths, flower pots, and bowls—just about anything that will hold water. Bees don’t like to get their feet wet and cannot swim. So, remember to add small stones, sticks, and other floating materials, such as cork to these containers. This will allow bees to safely stand near the water source without drowning.

And, eliminate the use of systemic and applied pesticides, insecticides and fungicides—not only for the health and welfare of bees but for our own health and the environment.  Pesticides and other chemicals applied to farmlands, gardens and lawns can make their way into ground water or surface water systems that feed drinking water supplies.

As the weather heats up and the days turn hot and lazy, the bees will be busy. Honeybees will travel incredible distances for their food and water, often flying two miles or more visiting 50 to 100 flowers each trip and returning to the hive as many as twelve times a day. A single bee colony can pollinate up to 300 million flowers a day. As a vital part of our food source, bees also pollinate 70 of the top 100 food crops we eat.

So, help our little pollinators by providing sources of fresh water.

MassDEP Beyond Compliance Awards

MassDEP Beyond Compliance Awards

Tata & Howard Clients Receive 2018 Public Water System Awards

MassDEP

MARLBOROUGH, MA Tata & Howard, Inc., a leading innovator in water, wastewater, stormwater, and environmental engineering solutions, is pleased to announce several of its clients were selected to receive the 2018 Public Water System Beyond Compliance Awards from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

The 2018 Public Water System Beyond Compliance Awards were presented to fifty-eight Public Water Systems in four different categories, including Nontransient Noncommunity (NTNC), small community, consecutive, and medium/large community, who achieved excellence in compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations.

In addition, these public water systems received zero violations in the past 5 years. They went above and beyond compliance regulations by testing for secondary contaminants and having adequate capacity.

“This award appropriately reflects the exceptional efforts and work our clients do every day to provide safe drinking water to the communities they serve,” said Patrick S. O’Neale, Senior Vice President, Tata & Howard. “We congratulate our clients on this well-deserved recognition.”

The annual awards ceremony was held at the Boston Statehouse on Drinking Water Day, Tuesday, May 8, 2018 during the week-long celebration of National Drinking Water Week (May 6 through 12, 2018).

Tata & Howard Client Award Winners:

Consecutive

Mattapoisett River Valley Water District

Medium and Large Community

Fairhaven Water Department – Fairhaven, MA
Mashpee Water District – Mashpee, MA
Newburyport Water Department – Newburyport, MA
Sandwich Water District – Sandwich, MA
Swampscott Water District, Swampscott, MA
Upper Cape Regional Water Cooperative – Sandwich, MA             

To review the entire list of this year’s award winners and nominations, visit to the MassDEP website.

Long Pond Water Filtration Facility Receives Multiple Honors

Long Pond Water Filtration Facility Receives Multiple Honors

Falmouth, Massachusetts – Tata & Howard was awarded a 2018 Engineering Excellence Silver Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of ACEC MA LogoMA (ACEC/MA) for the Long Pond Water Filtration Facility in Falmouth, MA. The award was presented at ACEC/MA ceremony and gala held on March 14, 2018 at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ACEC/MA’s annual Engineering Excellence Awards recognizes engineering firms for projects that demonstrate a high degree of achievement, value and ingenuity. Projects are reviewed by an independent panel of judges from the architectural community, construction industry, academia, the media, and the public sector on the basis of uniqueness and originality; complexity; social, economic and sustainable development considerations; and successful fulfillment of the client’s need, including schedule and budget.

ENR awardEngineering-News Record (ENR) New England announced in December 2017, their Regional Best Projects Winners. Methuen Construction, the contractor for the construction of this facility, was awarded two Best Projects awards: Water / Environment – Best Project and Excellence in Safety – Best Project (highest honors). Projects were evaluated on the ability of the project team to overcome challenges, contribution to the industry and community, safety and construction, and design quality.

In November 2017, Methuen Construction was also awarded an Eagle Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, the highest level awarded for Excellence in Construction.

Tata & Howard to Conduct Water Asset Management Plan and Hydraulic Study

Tata & Howard to Conduct Water Asset Management Plan and Hydraulic Study

Turner Falls, MA benefits from $40,000 state grant to improve water system.

Turner Fall MAMARLBOROUGH, MA, January 15, 2018Tata & Howard, Inc., a leading innovator in water, wastewater, stormwater, and environmental engineering solutions, was named the principal engineering firm to conduct a water asset management plan and hydraulic study for the water district in Turner Falls, MA.

Turner Falls will soon be able to assess their water inventory infrastructure after receiving a $40,000 grant from the Baker-Polito administration.  Turner Falls is one of ten communities in Massachusetts to receive a portion of $388,000 in grant monies from the state to improve the town’s drinking water systems or wastewater systems.

Tata and Howard, will assist the town in completing an asset management plan and hydraulic study, which will including above and below ground reviews.

Working with Mike Brown, superintendent for the water district, the study will include an inventory of water mains, age of pipes, past inspection reports, dates when wells were installed, and water quality tests.  “I was very excited to see we were qualified, said Mr. Brown.  “Some of our mains are 80-100 years old and could be corroded or built up with mineral deposits.”

According to Karen Gracey, co-president of Tata and Howard, “The grant is specifically for the funding of the plan and study. We are scheduled to begin in February and complete the report by May.”

From the information gathered and analyzed, Tata and Howard will make recommendations for water infrastructure improvements and replacements.

SaveSave

A New Year’s Resolution That Has a Big Impact and is Easy to Keep: Save Water!

While many New Year’s resolutions include renewing that old gym membership or cleaning out the garage, a great way to start the new year off right is to focus on conserving water. With severe drought across the country, including New England, water is becoming ever more valuable and people are looking for ways to get the most out of every drop. One of the easiest steps we can take to help mitigate the impacts of drought is conserving water. Unlike most New Year’s resolutions, making a few simple changes to save water is an easy resolution to stick to and it makes a significant difference in the world. Let’s look at a few simple ways you and your community can conserve water.

Ditch Those Old Appliances

content-image2
Image courtesy of www.localsanfranciscoplumber.com

The average person in the United States uses about 80-100 gallons of water each day. Of that amount, almost all of it comes from appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, and faucets. Toilets alone account for approximately 27% of the water consumed in your home and many older toilets use up to seven gallons of water per flush. Installing a high-efficiency toilet that uses less than 2 gallons per flush can save up to 18,000 gallons of water a year – about $120 off your water bill annually. And if you really want to go green, and are brave to boot – consider one of these alternative toilets!

Washing machines offer another opportunity to save water year-round. Washing machines, on average, account for around 20% of a household’s water use, and switching to a high-efficiency washing machine can cut that water consumption in half. If one in ten American households were to install high-efficiency appliances, we would save 74 billion gallons of water per year as a nation. That’s an annual savings of about $1.5 billion dollars on utility bills. These appliances may have a higher upfront cost, but when you save 30-75 percent of your water bill each month, these investments quickly pay for themselves.

faucets-aerators-infographic
Water Sense is a partnership program of the EPA and is the standard when it comes to high efficiency faucets and accessories. Image Courtesy of www3.epa.gov

For a more affordable option, updating fixtures such as showerheads and faucets around the house can significantly reduce the amount of water you use. Conventional showerheads use as much as 10 gallons of water per minute. Modern showerheads use just 2-3 gallons per minute, which saves water and minimizes the stress on your water heater. Also, installing faucet aerators can help regulate water pressure to create varying flow rates to use less water depending on the task at hand, saving thousands of gallons annually. Updating your appliances and faucets is the most cost effective solution when it comes to saving water. Combined with simple lifestyle changes, these innovative technologies enable us to save significant amounts of water.

Small Leaks, Big Problems

Although it may look insignificant, a lightly dripping faucet can waste over 20 gallons of water per day. Toilet leaks are another major problem that often go undetected. To check if a toilet might be leaking, place a “toilet dye” tablet in the toilet tank and closely monitor the toilet bowl. If, without flushing, the water in the bowl changes color within half an hour, the toilet has a leak that needs to be repaired. Another way to determine if there is a water leak in your home is to read your house water meter before and after an extended period when no water is being used, like when the family is away on vacation. If the meter does not stay the same, then you have a leak somewhere in your home.

Manage the Meat

Infographic courtesy of www.veganstart.org

Our favorite steak or burger may taste great, but it takes a lot of water to reach the dinner plate.  A pound of beef requires almost 2,500 gallons of water to produce. By avoiding beef for just one day a week, we can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In fact, we would save more water by not eating one pound of beef than we would by not showering for six months. We can save even more by cutting out other foods that require a lot of water to produce such as almonds (1,929 gal/lb.), chocolate (2,061 gal/lb.), pork (1630 gal/lb.), and butter (2,044 gal/lb.). When we do eat beef or other water intensive foods, we should choose pasture raised because grass is less likely to require irrigation compared to corn or soy used in the conventional method of raising livestock. Even cutting out that one extra cup of coffee each day can save hundreds of gallons of water. Being conscious of what we eat is not only good for our health, but also the environment.

To Wrap It Up

When it comes to daily water usage, even the smallest action to save water is significant to combat our country’s severe drought. Paying attention to how you and your family use water in your home will help you come up with the best ways in which your family can make simple changes that can have a big impact. For your New Year’s resolution, think of one thing each day that will save water – even small ideas can add up to big savings, for both our wallet and our planet.

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A New Year's Resolution That Has a Big Impact and is Easy to Keep: Save Water!

While many New Year’s resolutions include renewing that old gym membership or cleaning out the garage, a great way to start the new year off right is to focus on conserving water. With severe drought across the country, including New England, water is becoming ever more valuable and people are looking for ways to get the most out of every drop. One of the easiest steps we can take to help mitigate the impacts of drought is conserving water. Unlike most New Year’s resolutions, making a few simple changes to save water is an easy resolution to stick to and it makes a significant difference in the world. Let’s look at a few simple ways you and your community can conserve water.
Ditch Those Old Appliances

content-image2
Image courtesy of www.localsanfranciscoplumber.com

The average person in the United States uses about 80-100 gallons of water each day. Of that amount, almost all of it comes from appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, and faucets. Toilets alone account for approximately 27% of the water consumed in your home and many older toilets use up to seven gallons of water per flush. Installing a high-efficiency toilet that uses less than 2 gallons per flush can save up to 18,000 gallons of water a year – about $120 off your water bill annually. And if you really want to go green, and are brave to boot – consider one of these alternative toilets!
Washing machines offer another opportunity to save water year-round. Washing machines, on average, account for around 20% of a household’s water use, and switching to a high-efficiency washing machine can cut that water consumption in half. If one in ten American households were to install high-efficiency appliances, we would save 74 billion gallons of water per year as a nation. That’s an annual savings of about $1.5 billion dollars on utility bills. These appliances may have a higher upfront cost, but when you save 30-75 percent of your water bill each month, these investments quickly pay for themselves.
faucets-aerators-infographic
Water Sense is a partnership program of the EPA and is the standard when it comes to high efficiency faucets and accessories. Image Courtesy of www3.epa.gov

For a more affordable option, updating fixtures such as showerheads and faucets around the house can significantly reduce the amount of water you use. Conventional showerheads use as much as 10 gallons of water per minute. Modern showerheads use just 2-3 gallons per minute, which saves water and minimizes the stress on your water heater. Also, installing faucet aerators can help regulate water pressure to create varying flow rates to use less water depending on the task at hand, saving thousands of gallons annually. Updating your appliances and faucets is the most cost effective solution when it comes to saving water. Combined with simple lifestyle changes, these innovative technologies enable us to save significant amounts of water.
Small Leaks, Big Problems
Although it may look insignificant, a lightly dripping faucet can waste over 20 gallons of water per day. Toilet leaks are another major problem that often go undetected. To check if a toilet might be leaking, place a “toilet dye” tablet in the toilet tank and closely monitor the toilet bowl. If, without flushing, the water in the bowl changes color within half an hour, the toilet has a leak that needs to be repaired. Another way to determine if there is a water leak in your home is to read your house water meter before and after an extended period when no water is being used, like when the family is away on vacation. If the meter does not stay the same, then you have a leak somewhere in your home.
Manage the Meat
Infographic courtesy of www.veganstart.org

Our favorite steak or burger may taste great, but it takes a lot of water to reach the dinner plate.  A pound of beef requires almost 2,500 gallons of water to produce. By avoiding beef for just one day a week, we can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In fact, we would save more water by not eating one pound of beef than we would by not showering for six months. We can save even more by cutting out other foods that require a lot of water to produce such as almonds (1,929 gal/lb.), chocolate (2,061 gal/lb.), pork (1630 gal/lb.), and butter (2,044 gal/lb.). When we do eat beef or other water intensive foods, we should choose pasture raised because grass is less likely to require irrigation compared to corn or soy used in the conventional method of raising livestock. Even cutting out that one extra cup of coffee each day can save hundreds of gallons of water. Being conscious of what we eat is not only good for our health, but also the environment.
To Wrap It Up
When it comes to daily water usage, even the smallest action to save water is significant to combat our country’s severe drought. Paying attention to how you and your family use water in your home will help you come up with the best ways in which your family can make simple changes that can have a big impact. For your New Year’s resolution, think of one thing each day that will save water – even small ideas can add up to big savings, for both our wallet and our planet.
Subscribe-to-our-newsletter1