Water: How We Can Save It

By Shermakaye Bass

While some Americans insist on pampering thirsty lawns and water-greedy flora – and engage in other water-siphoning practices – innovative means of conservation are cropping up all over the United States, out of necessity or sheer eco-sense. Some can be easily applied by individuals; others require input, or even a policy change, from water-service providers.

“In Marin County (CA), where I live, they take a fairly clever approach that’s driving behavior change. They tell you on your water bill how your water usage compares to last year’s,” says Jason Morrison, a water expert at the eco-driven Pacific Institute in Oakland, CA. “It’s information that’s very easy to read. You can also compare your usage to the county average and to the town average. That kind of information motivates people. Those kinds of policies allow people to become actively involved in utilities issues.”

Something else that’s helped California, as it fights to stay afloat during a drought, is the tightening of specs on new construction, for instance, requiring low-flow plumbing for all new homes. (Old-fashioned toilets use 6 gallons per flush, while the smart and modern ones only take 1.6 gallons or less.)

Water utitilies around the country are finding similar opportunities in conservation.