Did you know rivers and streams provide more than two-thirds of our drinking water supply? This means that the water that you drink, cook and shower with, and use to clean your clothes and dishes, might come from a river.
Any day is a good day to get to know your drinking water source, but this week it is especially important because it’s National Drinking Water Week. This week we’re celebrating the source of our drinking water and learning what we can do at home and in our community to help keep it clean.
Where does your drinking water come from?
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters is a great place to start. There, you can learn where your local water utility is getting your drinking water from. For example:
- If you live in Seattle, your water comes from the Cedar and Tolt rivers, where surrounding forests help protect water quality.
- If you live in New York, your water comes from the Delaware River basin.
- The 3.2 million residents of Minnesota’s Twin Cities get their water from the Mississippi River.
- Most of metro Atlanta’s 4.1 million residents get their water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.
- The lifeline of the Colorado River sustains more than 36 million people across seven states, from Denver to Los Angeles.
- Three fourths of the drinking water for the Washington, DC metro region comes from the Potomac.
How can you help your drinking water source?
Get your hands dirty!
Local river organizations have a variety of events, from tree planting to invasive plant removals, all of which help the water quality in your river. Using River Network’s searchable map, you can find and connect with over 6,000 groups across the U.S. that are working on local rivers.
Catch the rain
Rain barrels, which attach to downspouts, catch rainwater which would otherwise flow into sewers and over dirty streets, carrying pollution into local streams. Rain gardens are an attractive way to collect runoff and encourage groundwater recharge. These approaches work in concert with nature to collect and filter runoff, reduce flooding, and minimize pollution in our rivers and streams, all while helping to save money and energy.
Reduce your use
One easy way to help protect your local rivers – use less of them! There are a few simple things you can do at home to ease the burden on your local water supply and save money in the process.
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
- Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load.
- Use a low flow shower head and faucet aerators.
- Fix leaks.
- Install a dual flush or low flow toilet, or put a conversion kit on your existing toilet.
- Don’t overwater your lawn or water during peak periods, and install rain sensors on irrigation systems.
- Install a rain barrel for outdoor watering.
- Plant a rain garden for catching stormwater runoff from your roof, driveway, and other hard surfaces.
- Monitor your water usage on your water bill and ask your local government about a home water audit.
- Share your knowledge about saving water through conservation and efficiency with your neighbors.
Every drop of water we drink connects us to a river. Together, we can make a difference for our rivers, ensuring clean water supplies for generations to come.