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Imagine a Day Without Water

As published in the Lake Travis View, October 2020.

Imagine a day without water: a day without safe, clean, reliable water. Think of all the ways you use it. How much you depend on it. Each year, the national educational campaign, Imagine a Day Without Water, aims to bring this very important topic to the forefront of conversation because a day without water is more than just an inconvenience; it would be a public health and economic disaster. While many Americans take for granted the ability to enjoy safe, clean, reliable water services, it’s not limitless and the infrastructure and staffing it takes to bring water to and remove wastewater from homes and businesses require substantial investment.

This year, October 21 was the day of action for the Imagine a Day Without Water campaign. Across our nation, anyone who cares about water and our nation’s infrastructure was encouraged to participate. Last year, Michael Phelps partnered with Colgate to help raise awareness and educate their fans about using water wisely; Capitol Hill focused on the need to rebuild the country’s aging water infrastructure; and kids participated in school activities, drawing frowning faces envisioning a world without water. This year, with COVID-19 still a prime concern, the focus has been on the important role water and water professionals play in public health. But, let’s be frank: it’s mainly us water utilities touting the importance of the products and services we offer…including their scarcity. “What?!” you said. Yes, we constantly give you those simple water-saving tips because clean, safe, reliable water isn’t limitless.

Each day, every American typically uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water for sanitation, hygiene, relaxation, hydration, and keeping their lawns green. But, even when you’re not physically using water, the products you buy take a lot of water to produce which bumps up that daily average to about 1,800 gallons per person per day! You can calculate your household’s water footprint at watercalculator.org, a free tool developed by the non-profit organization, GRACE.

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • It takes about 39,000 gallons of water to make one car.
  • About 1,799 gallons of water are required to produce a 16-ounce steak.
  • Manufacturers use about 650 gallons of water to produce enough cotton for one T-shirt.
  • About 37 gallons of water are required to grow and process the number of beans needed for a single cup of coffee.
  • About 13 gallons of water go into the production of one gallon of paint.
  • It takes about twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water in the bottle.

At Lakeway Municipal Utility District (LMUD), we provide water and wastewater services to about 10,000 people in our community. To accommodate our customers’ demand, our water plant averages a production of 600 million gallons per year! All of this water is sourced from Lake Travis and then undergoes a lengthy, complicated process to make it safe for consumption, which requires a high degree of skill from trained water professionals and expensive equipment that must be maintained. Our commercial customers, including shopping centers, churches, golf courses, and the City’s medians, make use of our recycled water system, using about 200 million gallons of this treated wastewater per year for irrigation purposes, saving our water plant from having to produce an average of an additional 35 percent per year. We say all of this to remind you that water is precious and you are using more than you think. Every drop counts and saving water starts with you, so be conscious of your choices and use water wisely.

Written by Stephanie Threinen, Public Information Liaison, LMUD. Earl Foster is the General Manager of LMUD.