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About Water Usage
Overall Fresh Water Use in the U.S.*
Estimated fresh (not including sea, brackish or reclaimed) water use in the U.S.: 349 billion gallons per day, total
Thermoelectric power generation (mostly surface water used for once-through cooling of power plants that produce electricity using steam-turbine technology) accounts for the largest percentage of fresh water use at 41%
Irrigation (for agriculture and horticulture) accounts for the second largest percentage at 37%
Domestic or Residential uses (indoor & outdoor) account for 8.2%
Industrial, Commercial (businesses, hotels, etc.) & Other Uses (including system losses) from Public Supply account for about 5.4%
Industrial Uses (for manufacturing and producing food, paper, chemicals, etc.) from Private Supply account for 4.7%
Aquaculture (raising of fish & shellfish) accounts for 2%
Mining accounts for 1%
Livestock accounts for about 0.7%
* Most recent data is for 2005 by the U.S. Geological Survey
Residential Water Usage
Leaking faucets and toilets account for about 1,200,000,000,000 (1.2 trillion) gallons of water wasted each year in the United States, which is enough water to fill more than 1.7 million Olympic sized swimming pools
About 43 million people in the U.S. get their water from self-supplied sources such as wells or other private sources, which accounts for about 1% of all of the fresh water used
In the U.S. the average person uses about 100 gallons of water per day, with toilets accounting for the highest percentage at 27%. The pie chart on the right shows the breakdown of water usage for an average household in the U.S.
In the US, watering a home's lawn can consume up to 80,000 to 100,000 gallons of water each year (applying 1 inch of water for every 1,000 sq ft requires about 600 gallons). Much of this water is wasted due to non-optimized sprinkler systems sprinkler systems, over-watering and evaporation. For instance, water is wasted on sidewalks and driveways, as well as during the day when the sun is at its highest or automated systems that turn on even when it's raining.
For those with public water and sewer services, your total cost of water includes your municipal sewer fee ($/1,000 gal) as well your monthly water fee ($/1,000 gal), which can be as high as $20/1,000 gallons for both in parts of California, to as low as about $5/1,000 gallons for both in parts of Tennessee. The average is approximately $7/1,000 gallons for both water and sewer fees
For many municipalities, storm water flows into the sewer system and overloads the treatment plants; however due to recent federal regulations, these cities have to separate these pipes, so they are increasing sewer rates by as much as 20 – 100% or more each year, in order to cover the estimated $500 billion total cost
Reduce Your Water Usage by up to 50% or More
Toilets - 27% of household water use
Toilet leaks are most often due to an issue with the flapper not properly sealing with the drain valve, where a slow leak can waste up to 5,000 gallons per year and a continuous leak can waste up to 73,000 gallons of water per year. If you live in an area where the combined water and sewer rate is $14 per 1,000 gallons, then a 73,000 gallons/yr leak would be costing you an extra $1,022/yr, not to mention that's enough wasted water to fill about 4 average sized in-ground swimming pools every year!
- A leaking toilet due to a flapper issue can be caused by build-up on the flapper and/or drain valve, a deformed flapper, misalignment, or the pull chain hanging up. Replacing your toilet flapper with a dual flush toilet kit can save you water due to leaks, as well as with every flush.
- Another reason for a leaking toilet would be if there was a leak in a the toilet fill valve. Replacing a leaking toilet fill valve with a HydroClean® adjustable toilet fill valve will not only fix this type of toilet leak, but can also save you up to 1.25 gallons of water due to mis-calibration of the filling cycle, as well as clean the tank of sediments with every flush.can save you up to 1.25 gallons of water due to mis-calibration of the filling cycle, as well as clean the tank of sediments with every flush.
A lesser known source of wasted water in toilets is when there is a mismatch between filling of the tank and filling of the bowl after a flush, where the bowl "fills" first. In this case, once the bowl reaches its "filled" level, as the tank continues to fill, water will continue to be sent to the bowl which will overflow directly down the sewer pipe. Replacing your standard toilet fill valve with a HydroClean® adjustable toilet fill valve can save you up to 1.25 gallons of water due to mis-calibration of the filling cycle, as well as clean the tank of sediments with every flush.
Install an inexpensive dual flush toilet kit in your older toilets (3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) or more) and reduce your water usage here by up to 75%. These dual-flush conversion kits can even be used in many newer toilets (with 1.6 gpf) and still provide a water savings of up to 40%
If you have to replace your old toilets (with 3.5 - 5 gpf) consider installing a WaterSense labeled toilet that uses 1.28 gpf or less
Laundry - 22% of household water use
Replacing an old, top-loading clothes washer with a high efficiency front-loading washer, can reduce water consumption by up to 70% per load of wash, as well as provide additional energy savings associated with reduced hot water needed and drying time required (if using a gas or electric dryer) due to higher speed spinning capability of these washing machines. This can be an expensive option, although very good lower cost (~ $600 - $700) models are available, as well as government sponsored rebates for certain Energy Star models. The "Cash for Clunkers" type program for energy efficient appliances which was approved by Congress at the end of 2009, and gave the responsibility to define the details, timing and rebate payments to each of the states, is just starting to be rolled by several states
Faucets - 17% of household water use
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth is old advice, but definitely worth repeating, as it can save you 2.5 to 5 gallons each time you brush. Over the course of a year, that could add up to as much as 5,000 gallons of water saved per person
Fix any faucet leaks, where even a slow drip of 1 drop per second adds up to 3,000 gallons per year down the drain
Installing faucet aerators is a quick and inexpensive way to save up to 50% of water use from your sinks
Replace old sink faucets (with 2.5 gpm) with WaterSense labeled faucets to save 30% or more in water use
Showers - 16% of household water use
Install a high efficiency showerhead and reduce the amount of water used by up to 50% compared to a newer 2.5 gallon per minute (gpm) showerhead or up to 70% versus an older 4.0 gpm showerhead
Using a shower timer will not only let you know the length of time spent in the shower, but can also help you achieve the goal of a 5 minute (or less) shower, which is one of the lowest cost ways to reduce water usage in the shower by up to 50%
During showering, you can significantly reduce the total amount of water used by turning off the water during shampooing & soaping. However, you should be careful when turning water back on to avoid either really hot water or really cold water for the first several seconds, by standing off to the side of the water flow. There are certain showerheads that have a water flow pause button or valve, which can be easier than turning the faucet(s) on and off. This can reduce the amount of water used during a shower by up to half or more
Collect the cold water when the shower is first turned on and not yet warm, before getting in the shower. This could be between 1/2 to 2 gallons of water that you can use to water your house plants or garden
Landscape - 18% of household water use
Water lawn no more than once per week (recommended amount of 1” of water per watering) to promote deeper root growth, which will help make the grass more drought tolerant. Using a moisture analyzer is a quick and inexpensive way to determine whether your lawn needs watering or not
Best time to water your lawn is early morning (4am - 8am) as to avoid excessive evaporation if done during the day and to minimize chance of forming turf grass diseases due to extended periods of being wet if done at night
Install rain barrels, near your gardens and save up to 1,200 gallons per year for each 60 gallon rain barrel
Create a Xeriscape for your home, which incorporates native plant species to your area. This can save up to 4,500 gallons/year, as well as reduce the amount of time and energy (and greenhouse gases) required to cut grass as most Xeriscape designs call for smaller turf areas
Using mulch in your landscape will reduce evaporation and help the soil retain water
Verdant Community is proud to be an EPA WaterSense Partner.
Learn more about the EPA’s WaterSense program and its designation on water fixtures and appliances
Find out about air & water quality in your area
Information about contaminants and potential health effects of your drinking water can be obtained
by calling the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline 1-800-426-4791 or going to their website at
Get information on historical acid rain (pH) levels in your area