SD Facing Challenge of Doing More with Less Water

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Speeding up your shower by two minutes can save about five gallons of water each day. Piping leftover shower water to your lawn can conserve 25 gallons per day — or more than 9,100 gallons in a year.

Those are two examples of how some San Diegans have reduced their water binge in recent years. They’ve also made improvements such as buying low-flush toilets, water-sipping dishwashers and water-efficient clothes washers.

Between 2007 and 2013, the region’s residents, businesses and other institutions cut per-capita water use by 27 percent — from 211 gallons per day to 153. Now we’re being asked to dry out some more.

But is it possible to wring more savings?

Consider this: Between 1998 and 2002, the average American used 152 gallons of water per day, according to a 2006 United Nations report. The per-capita figure in Australia, the driest continent on Earth, was 130 gallons in that same time period. Most Europeans used 50 to 80 gallons per day, while many Africans subsisted on less than 13 gallons each day.

While parts of the developing world don’t have enough clean drinking water, experts said Americans and residents in other industrialized nations tend to waste potable water in lots of ways. Curtailing this waste would require being more mindful of consumption patterns and adopting greater reuse of wastewater, they said.

A good place to start might be the outdoors: More than half the water used in San Diego County goes to irrigate lawns and gardens, according to local water officials.

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