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8.7: Conserving Water

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    Can you figure out how to do these things better?

    The photos above show water being wasted. Water being used for irrigation with much flying into the air. A large fountain in the desert. Excess water being used to wash a car. These sorts of waste occur all the time. How can these activities be done without so much waste? How can irrigation or car washing use less water? What can people enjoy in the desert that doesn't involve so much water?

    Conserving Water

    Conserving water means using less of it. Of course, this mostly applies to people in the wealthy nations that have the most water and also waste the most.

    Saving Water in Irrigation

    Irrigation is the single biggest use of water. Overhead irrigation wastes a lot of water. Drip irrigation (Figure below) wastes a lot less. Water pipes run over the surface of the ground. Tiny holes in the pipes are placed close to each plant. Water slowly drips out of the holes and soaks into the soil around the plants. Very little of the water evaporates or runs off the ground.

    Drip irrigation helps save water

    The above is a drip irrigation system. Look at the soil in the photo. It’s damp around each plant but dry everywhere else.

    Rationing Water

    Some communities save water with rationing. Much rationing takes place only during times of drought. During rationing, water may not be used for certain things. For example, communities may ban lawn watering and car washing. People may be fined if they use water in these ways. You can do your part. Follow any bans where you live.

    Saving Water at Home

    It’s easy to save water at home. If you save even a few gallons a day you can make a big difference in the long run. The best place to start saving water is in the bathroom. Toilet flushing is the single biggest use of water in the home. Showers and baths are the next biggest use. Follow the tips below to save water at home.

    • Install water-saving toilets. They use only about half as much water per flush. A single household can save up to 20,000 gallons a year with this change alone!
    • Remember what they say about bathroom flushing in California during rationing: If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down!
    • Take shorter showers. You can get just as clean in five minutes as you can in 10. And you’ll save up to 50 gallons of water each time you shower. That’s thousands of gallons each year.
    • Use low-flow shower heads. They use about half as much water as regular shower heads. They save thousands of gallons of water.
    • Fix leaky shower heads and faucets. All those drips really add up. At one drip per second, more than 6,000 gallons go down the drain in a year—per faucet!
    • Don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth. You could save as much as 10 gallons each time you brush. That could add up to 7,000 gallons in a year.
    • Landscape your home with plants that need little water. This could result in a huge savings in water use. Look at the garden pictured below (Figure below); it shows that you don’t have to sacrifice beauty to save water.

    Garden with cactus that need very little water

    This beautiful garden contains only plants that need very little water.


    • Drip irrigation uses much less water than other methods.
    • People can reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers, installing water-saving devices, and many other methods.
    • Communities sometimes ration water during times of drought.


    1. How can you conserve water in your garden?
    2. How can changing your personal habits conserve water?
    3. How does drip irrigation work?

    Explore More

    Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.

    1. How much does bottled water cost compared to tap water?
    2. Besides cost, what are the reasons that drinking bottled water is harmful?
    3. What can make tap water taste better?
    4. How much water does a front-loading washer save?
    5. How long should you shower?
    6. When should you water your garden? Why?

    This page titled 8.7: Conserving Water is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by CK-12 Foundation via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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