“Drinking Water Week” Promotes Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water
By Gary Rose, Director of Operations, SouthWest Water Company, Texas Utilities West
May 5-11 is national “Drinking Water Week,” a week dedicated to highlighting the essential role that water plays in our daily lives. The American Water Works Association has recognized “Drinking Water Week” for the past 40 years in an effort to educate the public and connect with professionals and the communities they serve.
Clean water is of immeasurable value to communities, and the United States is fortunate to have one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world. Over the past century, many improvements in the health, prosperity and longevity of the United States population can be attributed to improvements in our water quality.
Fresh, clean water is both a basic necessity and a limited resource. To ensure clean, safe drinking water for future generations, we must invest in critical infrastructure improvements now and be diligent in our water conservation efforts.
According to the 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers’ Drinking Water report, much of the country’s drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life—some nearing 100 years. In the United States, there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks a year, wasting around two trillion gallons of treated drinking water.
Private water companies provide approximately 73 million people with clean, reliable water service each year. The five largest private water companies in the United States alone invest about $2 billion annually to improve water systems across the nation.
There are several ways consumers can also make a positive impact in ensuring clean, safe and reliable drinking water for years to come.
SouthWest Water Company, an American private water company that provides water and wastewater services to more than 500,000 customers in five states, offers the following tips for protection and conservation of water:
1. Choose non-toxic household products whenever possible—Many cleaning products are harmful to aquatic life, water quality and the overall ecosystem.
2. Don’t use antibacterial soaps or cleaning products— Antibacterial chemicals in soap can’t be completely removed by wastewater treatment facilities.
3. Plant native species—Plants that are native to Texas require less water and reduce the need for fertilizer.
4. Pick up after your pets—Pet waste releases materials that can consume oxygen in water. Dissolved oxygen is important to water quality and the wildlife that live in it.
5. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth/washing your hands—Water flows out of a faucet an average of 2.5 gallons per minute. Turn off the faucet after you wet your brush/hands, and leave it off until it’s time to rinse.
6. Check household faucets for leaks—A faucet with even a slow drip uses 10 to 25 gallons of water. To estimate water waste and learn how much water you could be saving, you can use American Water Works Association’s Drip Calculator.
7. Choose efficient water fixtures—Investing in a low-flow toilet, choosing efficient showerheads, or selecting WaterSense-rated dishwashers and washing machines can conserve a significant amount of water.
8. Take short showers—A five-minute shower can use 10-25 gallons of water. Shortening your showers will save a tremendous amount of water.
9. Repair leaky toilets—To check for leaks, add 12 drops of food coloring into the tank and if color appears in the bowl one hour later, your toilet is leaking.
10. Water your lawn in evening or early morning—Watering your lawn in the evening or in the early morning can help avoid evaporation. Be careful to water only the lawn and not the sidewalk or street.
Along with these tips, it is important to support local efforts to improve water and wastewater infrastructures. Get involved in water education and talk with your neighbors about how they can help, too. For more information, please visit https://www.swwc.com/texas/drinking-water-week/.
Gary Rose is the director of operations for SouthWest Water.