Sunday, August 12, 2007

Water usage

Indianapolis is under a water advisory. The Indianapolis Water Company is pumping at their maximum filter capacity, and is asking people to not water their lawns quite so often. They're pumping close to 210 gallons per resident. I can't figure out how people are using so much water. The thing is, it's pretty easy to figure out how much water you use in a day because our fixtures all have limiters built in. Every time you flush your new toilet: 1.6 gallons. Every minute you run your shower: 3.5 gallons max. Every time you run the dishwasher: 8 gallons. Clothes washer: 40 gallons per load. I just googled and found this online water consumption calculator*. Laura and I came out to 56 gallons per day per person for our interior water usage, which still seems like a lot.

I spent a few years being hyper-aware of my personal water consumption, and it's still lurking in the back of my mind. I blame Frank Herbert. After I read Dune, I spent a long time noticing how much water I was using for everything. I spent years taking fast showers and washing dishes in a trickle from the sink, and I'm still pretty parsimonious about my water usage. This might be the chief reason I still consider Dune to be one of the best books I ever read -- its lasting effects on me were impressive, because he so carefully constructed a desert world in which water was in such short supply that people wore special high-tech clothing to recycle their sweat, and in which rich jerks would throw their damp hand towels to the poor as a (demeaning) gift of water. I can't remember any other time a work of fiction had such an influence on my daily life.

* If you want to use the calculator, be aware that you need to adjust the defaults. The calculator defaults to 5 gallons per flush for a toilet. This is complete fiction; even older and commercial toilets only use a maximum of 3.5 gallons per flush. Any toilet made in the last 10 years is required by law to use 1.6 gallons or less.

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