Today is World Water Day and we are now more aware than ever of the importance of tap water. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 depends strongly on handwashing and voluntary social distancing; two things made possible in part by water and the strong infrastructure systems maintained by our region’s water and wastewater utilities.
Water is life. Because of water, we can wash viruses from our hands, medical staff can protect themselves and their patients, residents can hunker down in their homes confidently knowing they can quench their thirst, cook a meal, and maintain a clean home. It’s scary to think where we might be without it.
During this time of social distancing, we encourage all Hampton Roads residents to be mindful of water usage around the house. Hampton Roads is surrounded by water and we’re lucky to have the capacity to serve all the region’s water needs and yet we should always be respectful of the world’s most precious resource. Here are six easy ways to be mindful of your water usage during social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Check for leaks. We’ve just wrapped up “Fix a Leak Week” and would encourage all residents to check their sinks, showers, hose nozzles, irrigation systems, and toilets for leaks. Silent leaks can run up your water bill and are often very simple to fix.
- Adjust water levels. When running loads in the washing machine or dishwasher, always make sure the load is full or that water usage is adjusted to reflect the load size. Many new appliances have settings for smaller or lighter loads to make sure you use only what you need.
- Wash your hands…but turn off the tap. Handwashing is a must right now, but leaving the water running while you lather is not. Prevent water waste when washing hands, brushing teeth, or scrubbing dishes by simply turning off the tap when not in use.
- Skip a shower. If social distancing has you stuck in the house, you may not need a daily shower. Showers are responsible for the third largest water usage in households after toilets and washing machines. Each eight minute shower uses about 17 gallons of water. A family of four could save nearly 70 gallons of water per day by staggering showers.
- If it’s yellow let it mellow. Have you heard this old saying? If not, the theory goes that you should let the “yellow” mellow in the bowl while flushing down the “brown.” This tip isn’t for everyone and we hear strong opinions on both sides, but with everyone in your family home 24/7 for the foreseeable future, your water bill just might thank you for being mellow.
- Reconnect you rain barrel. If you are the proud owner of a rain barrel, now is a great time to reconnect it. Rain barrels should be disconnected during freezing temperatures to prevent damage. Now that the threat of freezing weather has passed, start collecting all the rainwater you’ll need for spring plantings and help cut back on your water usage.
We’ll leave you now with some surprising water facts from around the world provided by the United Nations as a gentle reminder of how fortunate we are here in Hampton Roads:
- 2 out of 5 people or 3 billion people around the world lack basic handwashing facilities at home. 1.4 billion have no facility at all.
- Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress or water scarcity.
- Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 8 out of 10 households with water off premises decreasing their ability to participate in school programs.