Where does my water come from?

My one year old daughter Aviva sits in the bath tub and marvels at the sprinkle of water that splashes her face. She swats it and surprises herself. Overjoyed, she leans over, drinks it and smiles. It is magic! Or at least, it seems like it to her.

But it is not magic. It’s an intricate system of pipes and pumps that delivers water to our sinks, bathtubs, dishwashers, ice makers. And that water supply system, at least here in metro Atlanta, starts at the banks of a river. Here in metro Atlanta, 99% of our water comes from rivers with names like Chattahoochee, Etowah, and Ocmulgee.   

And as our communities continue to grow, we cannot magically make more water. There is a finite amount of water available from our river systems, including from wells. There are limits to the amount of water a river can provide before it runs dry. 

So as we continue to grow, how can we keep from running our rivers dry? When we were in extreme drought a couple years back, my now 6- year old daughter, Bella, learned that “the river needed the water more than she did” – so she learned to turn off the tap while brushing her teeth. We take shorter showers. We capture rainwater to water our plants.

But there is more we can do to use water more efficiently in our homes and communities everyday. Water conservation and efficiency can help our rivers and our communities thrive. We can change out the fixtures in our homes with ones that do the same work with less water. Here are a few easy and affordable things you can do:

  • Replace the aerators on your bathroom sinks and cut you water use by over 75%. Half gallon per minute (as compared with 2.2 gallons per minute) aerators are effective and are even used in hospitals. ($2 each)
  • Change out your shower head. This is also a low cost water saver.  And while low-flow shower heads have gotten a bad name, the technology is much improved. As with all water saving products, look for the WaterSense label to know that the product has been tested and meets rigorous performance standards. (as little as $11)
  • Change out your old toilets. Replace your outdated toilets with an efficient one that can use as little as 0.8 gallons per flush. Many water providers have rebates for customers who replace old toilets – some rebates can cover entire cost of the toilet. (as little as $79)