Kerry O’Neill ’09 was a guest columnist in the Finger Lakes Times recently, providing advice for reducing water consumption, in light of the city of Geneva’s recent change of water meters and increased sewer rate. O’Neill co-authored the piece with Green Geneva Committee members Ken Camera and Larry Campbell.
“Fortunately, there are technologies and usage strategies that you can employ to reduce your water consumption and lower your water bills,” they write.
They explain water rates and then offer: “Consider two ways to go about reducing your water usage: 1) investing in water saving plumbing fixtures, and 2) changing personal water usage habits.”
O’Neill graduated from William Smith College with a B.S. in geoscience and environmental studies. She was a member of the crew team and earned a spot on the 2008-09 Liberty League Women’s Rowing All-Academic Team. She will soon go to Madagascar as an Agroforester with the Peace Corps.
The full article explaining how to save water, and how much that might likely mean in money savings, follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Water Sense: Changing Fixtures and usage can lead to real savings
Kerry O’Neill, Ken Camera and Larry Campbell • January 23, 2011
The recent modernization of the city of Geneva’s water meters and an increase in the sewer rate has led to higher water bills for many residents. Fortunately, there are technologies and usage strategies that you can employ to reduce your water consumption and lower your water bills.
Before going further we need to understand Geneva’s water rates. The charges for water and sewage service are combined in one bill, the water bill. For the first 4,000 gallons of water used, the combined rate is $22.29 per 1,000 gallons. For water used beyond 4,000 gallons, the combined rate is $11.65 per 1,000 gallons. In this article we use the lower rate to calculate savings, under the assumption that your water usage won’t drop below 4,000 gallons per month. If it does, your savings will be much greater.
Consider two ways to go about reducing your water usage: 1) investing in water saving plumbing fixtures, and 2) changing personal water usage habits. The table below illustrates the effects of changing to water saving plumbing fixtures and appliances. For each fixture or appliance, the performances of typical old and newer (more water efficient) fixtures are shown and the savings in gallons of water and dollars per year displayed. As shown in the second column, the savings are calculated for one use per day or week for each appliance. To find your savings, estimate how many times per day or week you use the appliance in your home and multiply the calculated savings by that number. For example, if your family showers four times per day, then your yearly savings would be $212. If you do five loads of laundry per week, then your yearly savings would be $60. Many plumbing fixtures have their water ratings stamped on them somewhere, and new ones will also show their water usage on the package.
For showers, the calculation assumes a 10-minute shower. If yours are only 5 minutes, then you are achieving the same savings without savings with the new shower head.
Plus, most of these fixtures use hot water, so there will be additional savings, not included here, that will appear on your gas or electricity bill.
Toilets can be improved without buying a new one – simply fill a plastic bottle with water and a couple of rocks so it will sink and place it carefully in the back of the toilet tank to displace up to a half gallon per flush. You may need to experiment to make sure your toilet still has enough water to flush properly.
The second way to save water is to change your water usage habits. A lot of toilet water can be saved by following the old admonition: if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.
Showers are also a perfect place to start. A plastic hourglass timer for showers is a great way to keep track of time, and competitions are fun for the kids. Shutting the water off when soaping or shaving can be extremely effective. In fact, decreasing your shower time by two minutes can save over 1,000 gallons per person per year. Is a bath or a shower better?
Most bath tubs take 40 to 60 gallons to fill. If you take a 15-minute shower or shorter with a standard 2.5 GPM shower head, a shower will save more water than a bath.
In most cases, a dishwasher will save more water than washing by hand. For dishwashers and washing machines, it is best to wait until you have a full load and make use of different wash cycle options if they are available on your machine. There are numerous ways to save water in the garden, including watering at dawn or dusk, using rain barrels and drip irrigation. Fix leaks! A leak of only one drip per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons per year!
Do we need to think about water? It is never too early to start. To learn more or decide which plumbing fixture is right for you, the following EPA website is a helpful resource:
This article was prepared by Kerry O’Neill, a 2009 graduate of William Smith College, and Green Geneva Committee members Ken Camera and Larry Campbell. O’Neill directed a campuswide water savings program at HWS and is headed to Madagascar as an Agroforester with the Peace Corps.
In the photo above, O’Neill is with pictured with local grade-school students.