Can you imagine a day without water? Water is essential to our lives – 50 – 65 percent of our bodies are composed of it. We not only consume water, we need it for so many important functions in our life. In truth, water is so readily available we don’t always appreciate how valuable it is or how much we use on a daily basis.
To bring light to this fact, I decided to track the amount of water I use in a day. In the morning, my day starts with water. I wash my face and brush my teeth before heading downstairs for breakfast. In the kitchen, I feed the dogs and fill up their water bowls before starting the coffee pot. I throw fruit, water, and ice in a blender for a morning smoothie and I am out the door for the day.
After work, I hit the gym with my reusable water bottle and take another shower. I cook dinner, feed the dogs and fill up their water bowls before watering my plants and loading the dishwasher. I often throw on a load of laundry and hand wash dishes that cannot fit in the dishwasher before brushing my teeth and heading to bed. I consider myself a conservative water user. I try to take efficient showers and turn the faucet off when not in use.
Imagine my surprise when I received my daily water calculation! According to the Water Footprint Calculator, I use 135 gallons of water a day! This number does not include the amount of virtual water it takes to travel in my car, power my home, or support my diet. Thinking about this, I can see how the average American uses over 64,000 gallons of water in a year. As Americans, we often don’t realize what it takes to ensure clean water. We turn on the faucet and clean water is right at our fingertips and the used, dirty water goes “away,” traveling down our drains and pipes without a second thought. In reality, it takes millions of dollars, hundreds of jobs, and reliable infrastructure to get that clean water to your home and take that dirty water away from your home, clean it and release it safely back into the environment.
What would my day look like without the ability to use 135 gallons of clean water? To raise awareness about the importance of water, HRSD and askHRgreen.org celebrated the fourth annual Imagine a Day Without Water event on October 10th.
Here at HRSD, water is our work! Every day, nearly 200 million gallons of wastewater enter our 13 plants from homes, businesses and industries across 18 cities and counties. That water is cleaned and highly treated, then discharged into the Elizabeth, James or York rivers, eventually ending up in the Chesapeake Bay.
As a new employee at HRSD, I am beginning to see how important it is to recognize and appreciate water. We cannot live without it. HRSD works to protect public health and the waters of Hampton Roads by treating wastewater effectively. We work to ensure that future generations inherit clean waterways – and will be able to keep them clean. Over 800 employees work every day to clean the water that leaves your home.
Water in our toilets, water from our tap, water in our nearest rivers – we not only need it, we expect it. Now, I’ll ask again. Can you imagine a day without water? Take a moment to appreciate the value of clean water and understand why it’s everyone’s job to keep it that way.
Blog contributed by Lacie Wever, Community Outreach and Education Specialist with HRSD.