April 16, 2012

Water, Water, Everywhere…

Lara Miller
Natural Resource Agent

If you were to look at a globe, you would see that a large portion of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, more specifically, oceans (Figure 1). Only 3% of all of the Earth’s water is fresh water, of which about 2% is locked up in glaciers and icecaps. The tiny fraction of remaining fresh water sits below our feet as groundwater or flows in and through our rivers and lakes. To make a long and complex story simple, of all the water on Earth, only 1% is usable by humans (Figure 2). If we use water faster than it can be recharged through rainfall, our water resources become depleted.

(Click to enlarge)

What does this mean for us?
We must help to conserve the fresh water resources we’ve got. Humans, plants, and animals need water to survive. As the human population continues to grow, water use will also continue to increase, making water conservation critical.

What can I do to help?There are many ways to conserve water in and around your home. Many of the following tips will not only help conserve water, but will also save money on your water bill.

Outside the Home

Repair and calibrate your irrigation system to reduce water loss.

  • Using and grouping the right plants in the right place can help to reduce the amount of watering required
  • Be a weather watcher-don’t irrigate if it’s going to rain
  • Water early in the morning to prevent rapid evaporation
  • Hand-water when possible to increase water efficiency
  • Mulch to help retain soil moisture
  • Capture rain water with a rain barrel to save water and money!
Connect a shut-off nozzle to your hose to stop the flow of water when needed.

Use a broom and dustpan instead of a hose to clean debris off the patio, sidewalk, and driveway.

Inside the Home

Repair leaky faucets, pipes, and toilet tanks.
  • One easy way to find out if there is a leak somewhere in your home is to read your water meter before and after a one-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak somewhere.
  • To determine if your toilet is leaking, add a few drops of food coloring into the tank of your toilet. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes.
Only run the dishwasher and washer with a full load.

Install a toilet-tank displacement device (Can cut water use by 40%)

Install faucet aerators (Can reduce faucet water use by 50%)

Install low-flow showerheads (Can reduce shower water use by 50%)

Still have questions? Visit to see frequently asked questions from Pinellas County residents.


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