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9 November 2011

Striving for water conservation, greener world

We have water everywhere, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal to worry about its conservation. Even the water that we use in our showers and sinks gets treated and then used again.

That is the wrong attitude. Though we aren’t necessarily in a dry area in South Florida, water conservation is important. The main concern is the way our water gets treated. After it is used in showers and sinks, the water is sent through the sewage system and to water treatment plants. The water is then put through a series of filters and chlorine is added to kill bacteria. By the end of the process, even sewage water is clean enough to drink.

But this whole process takes a lot of energy. Eighty percent of the energy used in utilities, such as water treatment, comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, unlike water, are non-renewable and extremely detrimental to the environment when burned to create energy. Even if you don’t care about how burning fossil fuels is bad for all of us, you definitely care about costs. According to the Miami-Dade County website, water treatment and purification costs about $11  per 1,000 gallons of water. That’s not too much money considering how many gallons that is. Yet on average, a person in the U.S. uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. Considering there are 2.5 million people that live in Miami-Dade county alone, that’s 225 million gallons of water used a day! In terms of treatment, that’s $2.4 million per day to treat water to use. That’s a lot of tax dollars.

The biggest use of water in a household is flushing the toilet, showers and then sinks. Obviously, we can’t stop using the bathroom, but we can take shorter showers. Instead of a 15-minute shower, take a 5-minute shower. After a certain point, more water does not make you cleaner. Also, make sure that sinks and showers don’t leak after being turned off. Some bigger things we can do as a community are install high-efficiency showers and toilets around campus. Though the initial cost would be high, it would payoff over time. High efficiency dishwashers and washing machines would also help. These little steps that all of us can take would help work toward a greener U and eventually greener world.

Nikhil Ghorpade is a sophomore majoring in public relations and ecosystem science and policy.