University of Illinois Extension
Environmental Awareness: Knowing Your World

Water Rich - Water Poor

Much less than one percent of the Earth's water is available for human use. This still represents a huge amount of water. This water is not distributed evenly over the planet. Areas that have large water needs may have to bring water in from long distances to service homeowners, businesses and agriculture. For example, southern and central California gets most of their water from northern California, which receives more rainfall.

The Middle East and Mexico suffer from water shortages. Much of the shortage in developing countries is from poor use of existing water supplies, due to pollution and waste.

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In Illinois, there is usually enough water to use for drinking, agriculture, and manufacturing. As cities grow larger and industries expand, however, water use increases. This may require creating additional sources of water, by either drilling more water wells, or making a lake. Taxes and increased water bills usually pay for construction of public water supplies. By conserving water use, existing water supplies can be used longer, allowing towns, cities, and industries to grow without the need to find additional sources of water.


What are some ways individuals can conserve water?

The chart shows that clothes washing, showers/baths, and flushing toilets make up 80 percent of a households water usage. Using low flow devices on showerheads, toilets, and faucets will make a big difference in the amount of water a household uses.

For example, an older toilet uses 5 to 7 gallons per flush. New low flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons per flush. Standard showerheads use 5 gallons per minute, while low flow showerheads use 2.5 gallons per minute. Frontloading washing machines will use only 40 percent of the water a top loading washer will use. Water savings can add up quickly.

Repairing leaky faucets and toilets will also conserve water. Even a small drip will waste many gallons of water in a day.


En Español

Water Rich Water Poor Natural Resources - Can We Use Them Forever? Energy and Ecosystems - Use Some, Lose Some Acid Precipitation - Are Things Getting Better? Global Warming Nature's Response

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