Across America, the reliable supply of high-quality water service is taken for granted. We rarely give a second thought to how water that reaches our homes, schools, businesses and fire hydrants arrives to us when we turn on the tap.
But unless we take measures to protect this most precious of resources, our quality of life could suffer. Daily, we are losing this vital resource to tremendous waste and contamination. For example, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than one trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami combined.
That is why the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has declared the week of May 2, 2010, as National Drinking Water Week. AWWA is the nation’s trade association serving water utilities. The idea is to raise public awareness of the fundamental need for high-quality, reliable drinking water service for public health, fire protection, economic development, and the overall quality of life we enjoy as communities and individuals. National Drinking Water Week focuses on the successful environmental stewardship of water supplies and resources by member agencies, investment in local water utility infrastructure to ensure the reliable supply of water now and in the future, and wise water use by individual consumers.
But the program goes beyond the professionals—it focuses on you, the consumer. There are several things we can all do every day to help preserve and protect water for future generations. They may not seem like much, but collectively, they save money as well
- Be conscious of your daily water use and take the necessary steps in your home to conserve this precious natural resource.
- Be sure that leaking pipes and faucets—indoors and outdoors—are repaired.
- Take care in the use of garden, lawn, garage or other home products and ensure that they inadvertently do not find their way into groundwater.
- Dispose of chemicals, medications and other potentially harmful products properly and do not pour them directly into home drains, the sewer, street drains or the lawn.
If each of us becomes more “water-wise” and pays more attention to how our actions impact the environment and watershed, we can help preserve our most precious resource for future generations. Environmental stewardship can begin right at home through wise water use and awareness of how we use and dispose of everyday items, including unused medications.
Illinois American Water has partnered with local and state officials, police departments, pharmacists and the EPA to create programs where customers can easily dispose of their unused medications. Locally, our customers can simply drop medications into disposal boxes located at police departments in Peoria, Bartonville, Chillicothe, Dunlap and Pekin.
Residents are encouraged to drop off their unwanted meds so they can be incinerated, which is the EPA’s recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal. Flushing medications down the toilet or the drain as well as throwing them in the trash are discouraged.
Drinking Water Week is a great reminder that we are lucky to live in a time and place when access to a safe reliable supply of water is just a turn of the tap away. Water is fundamental to the health and overall quality of life we enjoy.
So, the next time you hear that leaky faucet, take time to fix it. And when you run across items that need to be disposed of properly, make time to do so. These small efforts really do add up to a big impact. iBi