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Do We Need To Conserve Water? 

IrrigationConservation is simply the planned protection, improvement, and wise use of natural resources.  Water conservation means controlling, protecting, managing and planning for the wise use of our water resources.  In Alberta, we have to look at why we want to conserve water.  Realistically, we don't have the same water shortage problems that other parts of the world experience.  Except for agriculture, the water that most of us use is simply borrowed.  A large percentage is treated and returned to the same source from which it came.  Do we need to conserve water just because it sounds like a good idea?  Or are there other reasons that make water conservation a realistic practical option?  

Good EconomicsEconomically speaking, it makes sense.  Not only do we have to think about using our existing supplies wisely; we also have to consider costs.  Water is getting more expensive.  It's costing us more to supply, to treat, to dispose of, and to treat again.  The energy required to meet these demands is enormous and also carries with it an environmental price tag.  Just because the water is available does not mean that we have to use it with such reckless abandon.  Studies have shown that our household water use could be reduced by 50% without significantly changing our lifestyle.

Water conservation makes sense and it saves money for individual families in rural and urban areas, for industries, and communities.  Consider the case of a leaking faucet in your home.  The drip is irritating but you might assume it really isn't wasting much water.  Think again.  A dripping faucet leaking one drop per second can amount to 25 litres per day and to more than 10 000 litres per year.  That is enough water to wash more than 65 loads of clothing; have 140 five minute showers, or enough to wash 40 cars.  Imagine one leaking faucet in every home near you and it's easy to see why fixing a leak quickly makes sense and saves cents.  Another example is that a small toilet leak can cost you $30.00 per month.  A simple repair could save you $360.00 per year!

Reprinted from Focus On Water Conservation  (1993) with permission of Alberta Environment.

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