A different sort of drought

We’ve all heard the ditty “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”. This is often reserved for people operating on septic systems, in RVs, or who have lost water service and is often recited as a joke vs. a real way of operating on a day-to-day basis.

Consider this, though.

Right now the U.S. is facing serious drought situations in many parts of the country. Many reputable sources agree that the current climate change – and whether you believe in the man made aspect of it, the fact is the climate is changing – will only make current and future droughts longer and more severe.

(To be fair, there are also plenty of naysayers when it comes to the ‘reality’ of climate change. But I personally believe that the climate is changing, this really can’t be refuted anymore, and I’m pretty sure the human race isn’t helping.)

So where does your toilet come in here? Let’s assume that every household has a low-flow toilet, one that only uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush. What would be the outcome if every household in America every day just let one “yellow mellow”?

There are, according to U.S. Census estimates, approximately 112,000,000 households in the United States in 2008. (A household includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters.) Now, to be totally fair, according to the 2000 Census there were about 670,000 homes without indoor plumbing, so let’s call it 111,000,000 households that can impact this here.

If each of those 111 MILLION households participated just once per day in the whole “let it mellow” way of life, it would save the U.S. over 177,000,000 gallons of water every single day.

That’s the same amount of water:

  • that flows over Niagara Falls over 5 seconds — which may not seem like a huge deal if you’ve never seen the Falls up close, but if you have — that’s a helluva lot of water.
  • that would fill over 19,000 standard backyard above-ground swimming pools
  • I could put together another example but frankly it’s really hard to do. If you don’t realize that 177 million gallons in a day is a buttload of water then I’m not sure what else to tell you.

So, think about getting in the habit of letting it mellow a little more. Your water bill – and the planet – may thank you later.


2 responses to “A different sort of drought

  1. You’ve inspired me. I shall aim to be more mellow.

  2. Yes! Let’s all be mellow!!
    There are lots of other great water-saving tips at http://www.h2oconserve.org – check out the site – very informative and fun to use!!

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