EPA Launches New Water Conservation Campaign....By Driving a Car Cross-Country?

epa watersense screenshot image

The EPA is launching a great water consumption awareness campaign called We're For Water. We're definitely excited that the organization is working hard to show Americans how we can curb our water use and conserve resources. Goodness knows we need it, with the average American consuming an estimated 150 gallons of water a day through household use, food, and product consumption. But part of the campaign is a cross-country road trip during which "Flo" stops at 16 cities to raise awareness. Couldn't the EPA have come up with a way to promote the campaign without burning fossil fuels?The EPA announced this week, "The program, in collaboration with its partner, American Water, will spread the word about saving water by traveling cross-country, stopping at national landmarks and educating consumers about WaterSense labeled products. WaterSense products use about 20 percent less water than standard models."

The road trip portion of the campaign sends a hybrid car bouncing all over the US. Sure, it's a hybrid car, but for a cross country trip where most the miles are highway miles, that does little to reduce the fuel consumption. And really, how exciting is it to have the EPA arrive in your town? Umm...not very. They certainly could have made this a virtual road trip or come up with something much less carbon intensive. After all, we want to decrease our dependence on oil, and nearly three quarters of oil goes to transportation. It's not a great idea to try and set people straight in one area, while setting a bad example in another.

This rather dumb FAIL aside, the campaign itself sounds useful. The EPA is promoting WaterSense labeled products and water-efficient behaviors among consumers, focusing on three simple steps - "check, twist, replace."

· Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank; if the color shows up in the bowl indicating a leak, fixing it may be as simple as replacing the toilet's flapper.
· Twist on a WaterSense labeled bathroom faucet aerator to use 30 percent less water without a noticeable difference in flow.
· Replace a showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model that uses less water and energy, but still has all the power of a water-hogging model.

FURTHER READING: Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It (Interview)

The campaign asks consumers for their pledge to do these things and conserve water. The website is filled with information on water efficiency and resources, including a water calculator, and emphasizes why conservation is absolutely necessary:

There's a reason that water has become a national priority. A recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013. But by using water more efficiently, we can help preserve water supplies for future generations, save money, and protect the environment. WaterSense is making it easier to identify water-efficient products and practices.

However, water conservation is also about more than just the average American reducing their consumption. Making our water use sustainable for the long term means entirely rethinking our infrastructure for water distribution, as well as where we use water. Agriculture and manufacturing are two of the biggest consumers of water. So rather than focusing on things like changing out shower heads and adding faucet aerators, we should be focusing on buying local food grown with smart irrigation practices, consuming less meats, and buying less stuff in general. Looking at the big picture of our water consumption problems is where the real education and changes need to happen; still, starting with these steps on the consumer level will help get the ball rolling in raising awareness of our water crisis (though it shouldn't include driving a car, even a hybrid, across the country...)..

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More on Water Conservation
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How to Go Green: Water

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