Water Myths Debunked October 2017

Ghouls, goblins, and ghosts—oh my! It’s the Halloween season (still waiting on cool weather) so this month we're featuring spooktacular water myths. Scary!

Without further ado, let's dive right in to some of the biggest and most frightening water myths in Texas.

Myth: Our water supply is infinite.
If only that were true. Remember the water cycle? Evaporation and transpiration, condensation, precipitation. Repeat. Unfortunately, we are limited to the water that is available to us now—the same water that our ancestors drank and the dinosaurs swam in thousands of years before them. There is no new water.

We know from the 2017 State Water Plan that our existing water supplies that can be relied on during drought are declining, but population is increasing. That's why we must plan ahead to ensure that Texas will have enough water for everyone if a drought of record occurs in the next 50 years. If we don't take steps to reduce our water use and create additional water supplies, we could face serious water shortages.

Visit the Interactive State Water Plan website to find out how water is used in your area and learn about the recommended water management strategies outlined by your regional planning group.

Myth: I can't make a difference as an individual.
Yes, you can! There are many ways to conserve water, several of which are small changes that we can all make in our daily routines. One easy option is to shorten shower time. Did you know that reducing your shower time from 10 to 5 minutes could save at least 12.5 gallons per shower with efficient showerheads? That's more than 4,500 gallons a year!

But wait, won't switching to a high-efficiency showerhead reduce water pressure and diminish the quality of your shower experience? That's a myth. Today's high-efficiency showerheads are designed to maintain water pressure, giving you a great shower experience while conserving water.

Another common misunderstanding is that dishwashers waste more water than washing dishes by hand. Actually, most modern, water-efficient dishwashers can get the job done with just a few gallons of water, whereas handwashing a full load of dishes can use upwards of 27 gallons.

Water conservation is often the least expensive and most cost-effective way to help ensure adequate water supplies. Just think: shortening your showers and using dishwashers can save water, which could help keep your water bill down. Even a slow faucet drip translates to wasted water and money. At the end of a day, all those little drips can add up to as much as 8 gallons of water. And if the leak continues for days... Well, you do the math.

Outdoor water use can account for more than 30 percent of total home water use, so it's important to practice healthy water habits outside, too. But the good news is, if it rains, we don't need to save water! Except that's not true. Even with heavy, consistent rainfall, water remains a limited resource. Drought is common in Texas, which is why we should practice conservation throughout the year.

However, less rain means shorter grass, which requires less water—right? No, taller grass provides better shade to underlying soil, so it requires less water because evaporation is reduced and water is retained longer.

For more water conservation ideas, check out these indoor and outdoor tips.

Myth: Water is free.
Texans are very fortunate in that most instances when we turn on our taps, showers, and dishwashers, clean water is dispensed immediately. Access to running water is something most of us don't even think about until the water bill arrives. And when it does, we sometimes wonder why we have to pay for it. Don't we only pay for the water we use? Although the TWDB is not responsible for providing water services, we often hear these comments and the misunderstanding that water is (or should be) free.

Getting water to flow through your tap is a very complex process that involves several steps and a lot of infrastructure. First the water must be transported from the source to the treatment plant, often requiring pumps and pipelines. At the treatment plant, it's cleaned, treated, and tested before being stored or pumped straight to customers through the distribution system. This is just the abbreviated explanation. What it means, though, is that you're also paying to maintain all the equipment and infrastructure, as well as the people involved.

Water and wastewater systems are costly, and utilities are smart to take care of them to prolong their life cycles. When maintenance, upgrades, or new systems are necessary, water providers may need to increase water rates to cover the additional expenses.

So there you have it: three water myths debunked. What other water myths are out there? Share them with us via social media and we'll do our best to answer them. Reach out through Twitter (@twdb), Instagram (@TXwaterdevboard), and Facebook (@twdboard). Happy Halloween!

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