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EPA Urges New Yorkers to Reduce Their Water Use

Release Date: 08/29/2002
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(#02086) NEW YORK, N.Y. – Now more than ever, New York residents must take care to reduce their water use, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Water is a precious resource that is taken for granted until its availability becomes limited," said Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Once again, we are urging people in New York to redouble their efforts at finding ways to use less water since supplies are down."

Kenny cited a recent EPA report that found that an average of 14 percent of American household's water use is lost through leaks. The report was part of the agency's observance of "Water Efficiency Month," which is part of EPA's celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

In New York State, drought conditions continue in several regions. Nineteen New York counties have had their drought watch status rescinded and nine counties have improved, going from drought warning status to drought watch. However, a drought warning remains in effect for New York City, Long Island, Rockland and Westchester counties. As of August 28nd, the New York City water supply system reservoirs were at only 69.3 percent of capacity, while the normal capacity for this month would be 82.1 percent.

Unfortunately, this is not just a local issue, but a regional one as well. Because eight of the last 12 months were the driest ever recorded in New Jersey, the state recently re-instituted restrictions on water use, including a ban on lawn watering and washing vehicles at home. The state also imposed restrictions on commercial water usage.

The EPA found that across the country a typical family of four spends about $820 on water and sewer charges per year, so reducing water use can also save residents money. EPA calculates that a typical family of four can save $210 per year by changing appliances and fixtures.

EPA's "Top Five Ways to Save Water" are:

    • Stop Leaks. A silent leak in a toilet, for example, can waste 500 gallons a day and cost $1,000 a year. Every water-using equipment or system should be checked for leaks.
    • Replace Old Toilets. Any toilet built before 1992 is a candidate for replacement. A family of four can save up to 25,000 gallons of water a year by upgrading to a high-efficiency toilet.
    • Replace Old Clothes Washers. Clothes washers are the second-largest water user in your home. Washers with EPA's Energy Star certification use 35-50 percent less water and 50 percent less energy per load.
    • Plant the Right Plants. Consider xeriscaping, a technique for creating attractive gardens that use less water and are drought-resistant.
    • Provide Only Water That Plants Need. Automatic watering systems can be a home's biggest water user and can overwater greenery. Adjust systems monthly and consider purchasing electronic sensors to better control irrigation.
Other low-tech ways of saving water include not letting the water run while shaving or brushing your teeth; "recycle" water for plants before sending it down the drain; wash full loads in dishwashers and clothes washers; keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap; use a dishpan for washing and rinsing dishes; sweep sidewalks rather than hosing them off; and wash cars with a bucket instead of a hose, or go to a commercial car wash that recycles water.

Saving water also improves environmental quality by diverting less water to municipal uses and preserving more water for streamflow and aquatic systems. Less water use also means less energy demand, which translates to less pollutants from power plants.

Across the country – and locally – communities have successfully tightened their water-usage belts. New York City, Seattle and Boston have all reduced their water use by over 20 percent.

Residents can reduce their water use by fixing leaks, but they can also be pro-active and change to water-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Kenny noted that concerned residents can visit the EPA Web site for more information on saving water at home. Residents can go to and They can take a virtual tour of water saver home at Exit EPA disclaimer

For a copy of EPA's "Cases in Water Conservation: How Efficiency Programs Help Water Utilities Save Water and Avoid Costs," call 513-489-8190 and ask for publication number EPA 832-B-003.