July 8, 2015

Living in the desert, water conservation is always a hot topic. At home we can take steps to reduce our use by taking shorter showers, collecting rain water for our gardens or any one of 100+ Ways to Conserve. But how can we have a greater impact on reducing the amount of ground water we use? Well – it starts with a flush of the toilet.

When water goes down the drain, it travels through the sewer system back to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. These plants are like factories that turn sewage into clean water though several stages:

First the waste water goes through screens to remove large items, plastics and other non-biodegradables. Then microorganisms eat all of the organic material and fall to the bottom of the tanks leaving cleaner water on top. This water is then filtered and disinfected and ready to be reused.

Many communities use recycled water for irrigation of the turf areas, thus reducing the reliance on groundwater (by up to 40%!). Recycled water is, and will continue to be, a critical water resource in the desert because using recycled water helps us to ensure there are reliable water supplies today as well as in the future.

So all you have to do is flush, right? Wrong – what you put down the drain can affect the recycled water. Your toilet isn’t a trash can – it is designed to flush the 3 P’s – pee, poop and paper. Everything else belongs in the trash.

Saving water isn’t just about the amount water down the drain, it’s also about what else is going down the drain. Conserving water, and aiding in the recycled water treatment process starts with a flush.

From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. Miranda Allaire is an Environmental Program Specialist with Global Water, focusing on water use and water quality. She is enthusiastic about the importance of conservation, and frequently participates in community events to educate and promote water savings.