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Half of U.S. Under Drought- EPA Offers Water Saving Tips

WASHINGTON, DC, August 16, 2002 (ENS) - With almost half the nation now facing drought conditions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding Americans to take steps to conserve water and avoid waste.

On average, households lose about 14 percent of the water they pay for every day, said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

"Nationally, an average of 14 percent of the water we buy is lost through leaks without our ever using it - that's like paying a 14 percent sales tax on something you don't get to use," Whitman said.

A typical family of four spends about $820 on water supply fees and sewer charges per year and an additional $230 on heating the water. In many communities, the water and sewer costs can be twice that amount or higher.

  Many people do not realize how much money they can save by taking simple steps to save water, and they do not understand the cumulative effects such small changes can have on water resources and environmental quality.

"Water is truly a staple of our existence and using that water efficiently needs to be part of our daily lives," said Whitman. "Fixing a leaky faucet, toilet or lawn watering system can reduce water consumption. Changing to water efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances can be major water and energy savers as well."

Reducing water usage translates into energy savings. About eight percent of the nation's total energy production is used to treat, pump and heat water. Less energy demand results in fewer pollutants from power plants.

Diverting less water for municipal uses also preserves more water in streams for healthy aquatic ecosystems.

When individual communities have focused on efficient use of water, they have enjoyed great success, the EPA says. Some communities such as Seattle, Washington; New York, New York; and Boston, Massachusetts; have been able to reduce overall water use by more than 20 percent.

To spotlight these successes, EPA has published "Cases in Water Conservation: How Efficiency Programs Help Water Utilities Save Water and Avoid Costs," available online at:

To learn more about the simple things people can do to save water, take a virtual tour of a water saver home at:

Learn more about saving water at home and at work at: and:

"I believe water is the biggest environmental issue we face in the 21st century in terms of both quantity and quality," concluded Whitman. "The drought this summer is reminding many Americans of the need to appreciate clean water as an invaluable resource. As the U.S. population increases, the need for clean water supplies continues to grow dramatically and puts additional stress on our limited water resources. We can all take steps to save and conserve this valuable resource."

August is "Water Efficiency Month," part of the EPA's celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.


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