Taking steps to safeguard the water supply

Trillion gallons a year leaked in U.S. homes


Water leaks are found in bathrooms, kitchens and places we do not even imagine, causing consequences that people might not be aware of.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than a trillion gallons a year. That’s equal to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami combined.

Do you use just the necessary amount of water? Do you leave the water running while doing something else? In some cases, users know how much water they are wasting. But, sometimes, leaks go unnoticed.

When a toilet is running, it means the water is going from the tank to the bowl. That should happen only when the toilet is flushed. Otherwise, water is being thrown away, and consumers pay an excessive amount for a resource they aren’t using.

Miami Dade College, with about 60,000 students, is no exception when it comes to water leaks. At the Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, the third largest of the college’s eight locations, there are eight buildings, most with a pair of restrooms on each floor.

“We receive at least three calls a day reporting a water leak in a bathroom,” said Pedro Fernandez, the plant maintenance supervisor. “As soon as someone reports to us, a plumber is sent. We act fast; we have no choice. If we do not take care as soon as we get the call, it can cause a lot of damage.”

Some people have water in excess. Others are in great need. In 1995, about 436 million people in 29 countries lived in places where the water supply was scarce or under stress. By 2025, more than 1.4 billion people in 48 countries are expected to be in the same position. By 2035, the number is expected to grow to 3 billion, according to the World Bank.

As an annual reminder to Americans to check household plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense sponsors a program called Fix a Leak Week. It’s the second week of March each year.

WaterSense, a partnership program of the EPA, has the mission of protecting the nation’s water by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products and services. WaterSense-labeled products must achieve independent, third-party testing and certification to prove that they meet the agency’s rigorous criteria for efficiency and performance.

During Fix a Leak Week, participants are invited to grab a wrench or contact a handy person, plumber or WaterSense irrigation partner to address leaking toilets, faucets and irrigation systems around the home.

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