Recovery from the current drought requires long-term solutions. Long after Georgia's lakes and reservoirs return to higher levels, many water conservation measures initiated during the drought must stay in place.
“As important as water conservation is during this drought, it must become second nature in order to prevent future strains on the state’s water supply system,” said Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English, a member of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s recently formed Drought Response Unified Command.
“At home, water conservation should be commonplace because more water is used in the home than anyplace else,” English added.
Average indoor water use varies from 50 to 100 gallons per person per day. The greatest water use is in the bathroom. Laundry use ranks second.
Officials say one way to conserve water now and in the future is by installing water-saving devices and appliances in new homes. In existing homes, modifying the existing water fixtures in place will reduce water consumption.
The following list of suggestions will help reduce water use:
• Faucets and showers — Most faucets and shower-heads discharge more water than necessary under normal pressure. Adding a flow reducer in the water pipe, a low-flow fixture, or an attachment to the existing fixture reduces water use.
• Toilets — Most older toilet tanks hold more water than necessary. Filling plastic bottles with water and placing them in the tank reduces volume of water while maintaining a depth necessary to provide proper flushing velocity. Do not use bricks. They may crack the tank if dropped or disintegrate and cause plumbing problems. Toilets are commercially available with modified bowls and traps that require less water. Current regulations require that new fixtures use 1.7 gallons per flush or less.
• Pressure-reducing valves — Too much pressure causes high flow rates and wastes water. A pressure-reducing valve maintains an adequate water-supply pressure of 50 pounds per square inch. Older homes, where hard water has left mineral deposits in the pipes and reduced their diameters, may need higher pressure.
• Hot water pipe insulation — Leaving a hot water faucet running and waiting for it to carry hot water to the tap wastes water and energy. Insulating hot water pipes reduces this waste.
• Point-of-use water heaters (instantaneous) — Installing these separate units beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks provides instant hot water and saves water and electricity. You don’t have to run the tap to wait for the water to get warm. Sizes typically vary from two to four gallons. The heaters operate on normal house voltage (120V), propane, or natural gas.
• Dishwashers and automatic clothes washers — Water-saving models substantially reduce water consumption.
Modifying older appliances is usually not practical.
DRUC comprises the directors of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, and the Georgia Division of Public Health. It was established by Gov. Perdue to coordinate the state’s role in mitigating the effects of Georgia’s ongoing drought.