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Leaky pipes cost America 1 trillion gallons of water per year - 9% of California's water deficit

Leaky pipes

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(NaturalNews) As obsolete, unattended plumbing in our houses crumble, millions of gallons of water are lost each day. A few drips coming out of the kitchen faucet or showerhead might not seem like a lot to you, but even the smallest leak means gallons of water lost.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an average American household wastes around 10,000 gallons of water each year through leaky pipes, toilets and faucets.

These easy-to-fix leaks can annually add up to a loss of more than 1 trillion gallons. To give you an idea, that's about the amount of water needed to supply 11 million homes for one full year, or 9% of California's water deficit.

According to the Circle of Blue's 2014 Water Pricing Survey,[PDF] water prices in San Diego, while low despite the ongoing drought, can be average at around $0.00834. While this may not seem like much, if you count all those tiny drops and spills together, it means we are losing more than $8.34 billion of water through our drains.

Fix-a-Leak Week (March 16-22, 2015) is an annual campaign organized by the EPA which reminds Americans to check their toilets, faucets, showers, pipes and sprinkler systems for leaks. Fixing these small issues can mean a reduction of up to 10% on your water bill.

Do the home test

Leaking or malfunctioning showerheads, faucets, fixtures or sprinklers are easy to spot. Leaks in pipes, however, can go unnoticed for quite a while.

A simple leakage test can help you out. Check the number on your meter before you go out and recheck it after two hours. If the number has changed, you'll probably have a leak or forgot to turn off water-consuming appliances, such as a washing machine or dishwasher, before you left.

Toilets are one of the biggest water-leaking sources in our house. A running toilet can waste thousands gallons of water a month. A broken valve will likely be the cause and is very easy to fix. Sneaky silent toilet leaks, however, are a bit harder to spot. Food coloring can help you find out. Add a few drops to the water tank of your toilet and wait for about 10 minutes. If the bowl stays color-free, you're safe.

Make sure to check you water bill regularly. If nothing changed in your water-using habits but the bill went up, you may be facing a leak.

We need to take action

At the moment, huge parts of the world -- like California and Brazil -- are suffering from drought. Something as simple as taking a shower whenever you want may become a luxury in the near future.

If we want to keep the luxury of running fresh water, we're all going to have to make an effort to reduce the 1 trillion gallons of water being lost each year. Not only is it important to fix our leaks, but we have to change our attitude as well.

While your shower may be absolutely leak-free, it will for most people still be a huge behavior-related source of waste. Over time, we have become accustomed to having an unlimited supply of hot water.

"It's taking longer and longer for hot water to arrive at the shower or other points of use over the home," said Troy Sherman, who founded a company which makes water-conserving products, to The Washington Post. "So people have started to develop a habit of turning on their shower, then leaving and walking away, and going and doing other things as they wait for the hot water to arrive."

We use around 40 gallons of water per day in the shower; 20% of this water is just running through the drains, because it's not hot enough or we are simply distracted.

There is a huge amount of water to be saved, and we have to take action before the tap dries out. More campaigns, like Fix-a-Leak Week, are going to be needed to raise awareness that the luxury of a hot shower or flushing toilet may be lost to us in the near future.

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