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Karen Siddall
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Water Conserving Showerheads

Before the deluges of rain we've seen this past week, many cities and other water providers have been asking their residents and customers to voluntarily conserve water. Most will offer a couple of tips known to help in reducing water consumption around the house. All are good and doable but one, in particular, can really make a dent in your family’s daily water consumption. And it’s one that may carry with it memories of military service for some of our family members.

That tip? Take short showers.

Short is a relative term but if you search online “What is a short shower?” one of the most common offerings is a discussion of the “navy” shower. Also referred to as a “combat,” “military,” “sea,” or “G.I.” shower., this water-conserving shower may be familiar to relatives that are veterans whose duty station necessitated strict conservation of water resources.

It is estimated that the average shower lasts 8.2 minutes. If your showerhead was manufactured before 1980, it probably produces around 5 gallons per minute of use. An 8.2-minute shower would consume 41 gallons of water (not counting the amount of unused water that went down the drain getting to the desired temperature.)

Newer showerheads typically produce 2.5 gallons per minute with the newest Water Sense-rated models emitting 2 gallons or less per each minute they run. That same 8.2-minute shower with one of the newer models would cut that consumption in half but you’re still looking at 20 gallons or so.

However, the “navy” shower method can reduce your water waste even more substantially.

This method of showering involves turning OFF the water in the middle of the process. You turn on the shower to wet skin (and hair) then turn off the tap to soap up, scrub, and shampoo. The shower is turned back on to rinse. No “soaking” in the shower! The goal is to reduce the amount of time the shower is turned on to a scanty 2 minutes!

Even with the oldest showerhead, the two-minute shower would reduce your water use to 10 gallons for the entire chore! If your home has a higher-efficiency showerhead, a “navy” shower would expend 5 gallons or less for your entire shower. Multiply that savings by the number of participating family members and the number of showers taken and gallons saved can really add up to something significant.

For additional water savings, keep a clean bucket in the shower to catch some of the water expended just warming things up. Use whatever water is collected in the bucket for additional rinse water when you shampoo or for watering plants, flushing the toilet (fill the reservoir after a flush rather than letting it fill automatically), or even small cleaning jobs (washing toothpaste off the sink, mopping the floor).

A two-minute shower goal may be just too extreme for most of us, but keep in mind that the water we save today increases the amount of water we have for use tomorrow and may stave off changing volunteer conservation to mandatory restrictions.

For more information about water conservation, visit the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at www.prairielandsgcd.org.

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