Most of us get our water from a large public water supply system like Easton Suburban Water Authority's. Generally, a public water supply system involves water collection, storage, transmission, treatment and distribution.
First, the water is collected from surface water or ground water sources that are replenished by precipitation.
Next, to make sure water supplies are reliable even during long dry periods, water supply companies use dams or reservoirs to store large quantities of water that can be used in the event of a water supply emergency.
Some systems bring water hundreds of miles through pipes or special channels called aqueducts to treatment facilities that make sure our water is safe to drink.
The final step is distribution. Water is pumped or fed to your home through a complex series of underground pipes. The result is water at the turn of a faucet, when and where it's needed.
Being aware of how much water you and your family use is the first step in conservation. On average, each individual uses about 50 gallons of water each day. You can determine your average daily water use by using one of the following two methods:
Long ago, drinking water from a central source was distributed through a system of wooden pipes. When water was needed to fight a fire, a hole was drilled in the wooden pipe. When the fire was over, a wooden plug was used to close up the hole. These "fire plugs" were then marked for future use.
In the United States, average daily water consumption is 185 gallons per person.
75% of the human is water, and 75% of a living tree is water.
Using a hose to sweep instead of a broom will waste, unnecessarily, some 25 gallons of water in 5 minutes of hosing. Sweeping the sidewalk or driveway will get them clean enough.
Modern water treatment plants maintain the quality of our drinking water today. Here's how they work:
Intake screens strain water to keep out fish and large debris. Pumps send the water to a sedimentation tank. The sedimentation tank allows dirt and other impurities to settle to the bottom so they can be removed.
Chemicals such as aluminum sulfate or "alum" are added to the water in the tank. This causes the small particles in the water to clump together. Activated carbon may be added to the water to take away harmful chemicals and bad odors, tastes and colors.
Sludge formed in the bottom of the sedimentation tank is removed and treated. Lime slurry may be added to the water to soften it (that is, remove minerals that cut down on water's ability to clean clothing, etc.) Flocculation takes place when the clumps of particles (the "floc") become heavy enough to settle at the bottom of the sedimentation tank. A filter removes fine particles and other impurities. Disinfection, often with chlorine, is used to destroy disease-causing bacteria.
Pumps send the clean water into Easton Suburban Water Authority's supply system, which brings the water to your home or business.
Water-saving devices are economical and permanent. Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators save valuable water and energy used to heat water without requiring changes in personal water use habits.
The amount of savings depends on current water consumption habits, water, sewer and energy costs, current flow rates of fixtures and flush volumes of toilets, system pressure, and the amount of water leakage through fittings and toilets. You can conserve by installing water-saving equipment in place of conventional plumbing fixtures, fittings and appliances.
Pennsylvanians have access to an abundance of water much of the time, so the importance of clean water is often overlooked. For most of us, water use is a habit. We are accustomed to having water available at the twist of a faucet. We usually do not think about how much water we use.
In 1900, each of the 6 million people living in Pennsylvania used about 5 gallons of water per day. Since then, our population has doubled to almost 12 million people, and our water consumption has increased to an average of 50 gallons per person per day.
Part of this 900 percent increase in water use is due to the many modern water-using conveniences in our homes, such as automatic dishwashers, clothes washers, garbage disposals and home water treatment systems. A significant change in water use occurred when the bathroom was moved indoors. It is ironic that we use one of our most precious resources to carry our waste away.
Our water resources are not unlimited. They are affected every day by precipitation, population growth, economic development and pollution. Because water is a resource that must be shared, competition for its use is an ever-increasing management problem.
In the past, we attempted to alleviate our supply problems by constructing storage facilities and developing new resources such as wells and reservoirs. However, these measures can be costly, both economically and environmentally. A more cost-effective way to protect our water resources is through sound management and conservation.
To make sure you have sufficient water supply now and in the future, water utilities, including Easton Suburban Water Authority, are working on four focus areas:
Maintaining existing systems - Repairing and replacing leaking underground water pipes help stretch our present water resources.
Treat used water - Treating more wastewater to make it safe for reuse is also an important water-saving strategy.
Protect water supply sources - Efforts are being made to prevent pollutants from reaching ground water and surface water sources. This effort is especially critical in today's world of terrorist threats to public water supplies.
Improve technology - Research continues to find new ways to provide drinking water, such as desalting ocean water and controlling evaporation from reservoirs.