Clean WATER IN: Flushing with Water

 
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Down the drain

The average toilet today uses 1.6 gallons per flush. Flush 5 times each day, and you’ll use enough water in a year to fill a backyard swimming pool (2,920 gallons). Americans spend $5 billion every year flushing over 1.2 trillion gallons of clean, drinkable water down the toilet. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, “Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older, inefficient toilets that use as much as 6 gallons per flush also happen to be a major source of wasted water in many homes.”

Water, Water Everywhere

Although 70% of the earth is covered with water, only 2.6% of that water is fresh water, and only about .01% of the earth's water is readily accessible to us.

So how does it get from there into our taps and toilets?

Watershed Moment

When rain falls or snow melts, the precipitation begins its long journey downward, following the mountains and hills. The topographical area that diverts a flow towards a central place is called a watershed. Water follows gravity downhill, forming smaller tributaries and streams that connect to larger rivers and, eventually, the ocean. Along the way, humans generate energy from the water's flow, divert it into reservoirs for storage, and process it through plants to ensure safety for drinking.

Drink ME

While all fresh water is technically drinkable (as opposed to salt water), it must first be screened for chemical contaminants, illness-causing bacteria, etc. The first line of defense is to maintain a healthy watershed; fewer contaminants getting into the water mean less treatment is necessary at the plant. Generally, municipal water plants follow the following processing before sending water to your tap.

From Plant to Tap

We're almost done! Pumps, water towers and countless miles of pipe help to ensure that water makes it to you whenever you turn on the tap. Follow Splash the droplet on the whole journey in this video from New Jersey American Water.


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