June 5, 1999 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Kentuckians use a lot of water. The average public water customer uses approximately 74 gallons of water each day. Wow, it is sobering to think of that much water being used every day by every person. A family of four easily can use more than 300 gallons of water each day.

So, where does all that water go? According to Kentucky-American Water Company, the above figure does not include summer lawn-watering; it's just based on household use. About 26 percent of the 74-gallon estimate is being flushed down the toilet. Washing machines use a staggering 22 percent; another 18 percent is used in showers. At a rate of five to 10 gallons per minute in the shower, the number quickly can rise. Other significant factors in water usage are faucets - 15 percent, baths - two percent, leaks - 13 percent, and dishwashers - two percent.

At the national level, water usage is down. According to recent studies by the United States Geological Survey, the U.S. is using about 402 billion gallons per day. That figure indicates a two percent drop since 1990 and a 10 percent decrease since 1980. Still, these lower figures don't mean water conservation efforts can stop.

"People are more aware of the need to conserve water," Kim Henken, extension associate for environmental and natural resource issues at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, said. "Individuals, industries and communities are more efficient today, but there is still room for improvement."

You can do a few simple things around the house to decrease your overall water usage. In the kitchen - don't run the dishwasher until it's full, and don't use the hottest water setting; in the bathroom - don't use the toilet as a trash can, since it can take up to seven gallons of water to flush the toilet. Also in the bathroom - take shorter, cooler showers and turn off the water while you brush your teeth.

"During the summer months, the use of water outdoors dramatically increases," Henken said. "Washing cars, watering lawns and gardens, and other outdoor activities can use a substantial amount of water."

Kentucky-American Water Company offers some practical suggestions to optimize summer water use. Water early in the morning to prevent evaporation that occurs in the hottest part of the day. Water only when grass shows signs of wilt. Don't let the sprinkler run any longer than necessary. In an hour, 600 gallons can be wasted. Avoid watering on windy days when the wind not only blows water off target, but also causes excess evaporation. Position sprinklers to water the lawn, not the pavement. Avoid watering on windy days when the wind not only blows water off target, but also causes excess evaporation.

Most of all, use common sense. Be aware of how much water you use and take steps to reduce the amount. Everyone benefits from water conservation.


Writer: Aimee D. Heald (606) 257-9764
Source: Kim Henken (606) 257-7775