Editorial: Please be mindful of water resources

Published 10:30 am Thursday, August 15, 2013

As Americans, it’s easy to take common amenities and comforts for granted.

It’s not uncommon to walk into a locker room at the city pool and find that children left multiple showers running when they left. It’s also not uncommon to return from a swim to find these showers still running, meaning it’s conceivable they’re left on for hours until someone turns them off.

In our experience, running showers are common at locker rooms just about anywhere: high schools, YMCAs, country clubs, gyms …

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This is no fault of the pool staff; in fact, it’s probably only a select group of young people who leave them on as youthful oversight. Yet it still presents a good time to stop and reflect. According to the www.usgs.org, the average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute, so a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water. If the showers are left on for an hour, that’s 150 gallons of water.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, water usage has tripled across the globe in the last 50 years, and it called ensuring the supply and availability of water, “one of the most critical natural resource issues facing the United States and the world.”

During last year’s drought, some shallow wells in Minnesota and Iowa ran dry. That could continue to be a problem, as 36 states have planned for local, regional or statewide water shortages.

Living in Minnesota, we often forget that many people around the world live without clean drinking water — 1.1 billion according the World Water Council.

We are blessed with not having to worry about this in Minnesota — so blessed that the average American home uses more than 300 gallons each day.

While it’s unlikely any of the children leaving the showers on at the pool will read this editorial, the city could someday consider showers that automatically turn off.

It’s good for everyone to at least be mindful of the resources being used each day. Many online resources, like http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sq3.html, can help people roughly estimate how much water they use.