The world and the world’s climate are changing, and by now most of us are well aware of the precarious potable (usable) water situation occurring across the U.S. and around the world. This past summer more than half of all U.S. states were in drought conditions — and not just in the western states as we may think, but throughout the Midwest and along the East Coast as well.
The resulting decrease in potable water availability carries with it not only restricted use, but also higher costs. Over the past 10 years we have seen water and sewer rates increase in higher percentages per year than energy. Add to that the fact that it takes vast amounts of energy to move our water to our faucets and toilets and it’s clear the current system is untenable.
What can we do? As bad as the situation may seem, there are solutions. Water efficiency is the answer.
Did you know that the very dry city of Phoenix, Ariz. is using less water today (per capita) than it was a decade ago? Did you know that Los Angeles, Calif., which has had chronic water problems dating back to the 1930s, is using far less water today on a per capita basis than it was in the 1970s?
These cities, and many more like them, have found ways to use water far more efficiently. That means using as little water as possible to satisfy our needs, and it includes such things as reducing water consumption, recycling water, capturing and using rainwater (known as rainwater harvesting), cleaning up graywater for reuse and finding ways not to use water at all.
In my industry, the development of more water efficient restroom fixtures is at the top of virtually every manufacturer’s agenda. One of the developments I am most proud of is that, while there are some government regulations on how much water restroom fixtures can use, for the most part, private industry has gone far beyond these recommendations, helping to further reduce water consumption and use water more wisely.
This tells me that even with climate change, growing populations and increased water needs, our water problems are solvable. Ingenuity and technology, abundant in the U.S., are key to the solution.
Klaus Reichardt, founder and CEO of Waterless Co. Inc.