Doing dishes, brewing coffee, taking a shower and quenching thirst have something in common: water.

Water is essential in our lives, but most of all without it we would die, and that’s why the quality of the water we drink is so important.

Water is made potable in water treatment plants, and delivered to our homes through an intricate distribution pipe system that runs under the streets.

In order to keep the quality of water once it enters our homes, we must:

  • Make sure our plumbing system is lead free.
  • Remove faucet strainers and rinse them to remove any debris. Do it periodically.
  • Get your water tested for lead, copper, pH, arsenic and turbidity; results should be within EPA levels. Visit www.epa.gov/safewater/labs for a list of certified laboratories.

 Another concern is the amount of this precious liquid we are using. Its use in the United States has quadrupled in one century. And even though the 70% of our planet is covered by water, 97% of it is salty, and the rest is fresh water, but around 2% is locked up in glaciers and snow, leaving only 1% to grow crops, cool power plants and provide drinking water to our homes. So we must reduce our indoor water consumption, in order to protect this valuable resource, and some ways it can be drastically reduced is by:

  • Installing water-efficient clothes-washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Installing dual flush toilets. They have two buttons allowing you to choose between a small flush for liquid waste or a big flush for solid waste.
  • Minimizing leaks, believe it or not, they can be responsible for more than 10% of a home’s daily consumption.
  • Filling the basin for doing dishes instead of leaving the faucet running.
  • Capturing roof water. It can be used for on-site activities like watering plants, or washing sidewalks.
  • Covering swimming pools to minimize the loss of water due to evaporation.
  • Designing your landscape for water efficiency using local plants and trees that are suited for the local climate—they require a lot less of this precious liquid than non-local plants (see my previous entry about smart landscaping).

Environmentally friendly buildings are helping to reduce the consumption of water by recycling it; for example, reusing it for toilet flushing (known as gray water). However, remember that millions of smaller energy and water saving solutions can have a greater effect than singular larger ones. So you can help too, and by doing so you will be helping to preserve the environment for future generations.