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Water, Water Everywhere . . .  Really?

September/October 2017


Traditionally, those of us fortunate enough to live near the shores of Lake Michigan, or in the once-glacial areas of Illinois and Wisconsin, have seen water as a bountiful source of both life and pleasure.  With this essential but diminishing resource we have: quenched our thirst; irrigated our crops, lawns and gardens; soothed our bodies in luxurious baths and showers; boated on the myriad lakes and rivers; and entertained ourselves at countless pools, water parks and beaches.  Though seemingly endless in its abundance, the truth is that water is a limited and fragile resource.

The quality of life in our community is directly related to the health and viability of our water resources.  Some Riverwoods residents are dependent on private wells, but even those with Lake Michigan water have concerns about possible future limits, the long-term health impact of this diminishing resource, and the relatively high cost of water purchased from other communities.

Water-using devices within our homes consume water at varying rates, and it may come as a surprise at how much water simple tasks may consume.  For example, in 2016 the U.S. Geological Survey compiled the following statistics:

  • Toilet Flush: 1.6 - 3 gallons per flush
  • Shower: 2 - 5 gallons per minute
  • Bath: 36 gallons (average) 
  • Sink Faucet: 3 gallons per minute
  • Dishwasher: 6 - 16 gallons per wash cycle
  • Dishwashing by Hand: 8 - 27 gallons
  • Older Clothes Washer: 40 gallons per load
  • HE Clothes Washer: 25 gallons per load
  • Outdoor Watering: 2 gallons per minute
  • Small Leak: 170 gallons per day
  • Large Leak: 1,000 gallons per day

Being conscious of conserving water can save money, help keep the environment healthy by diverting less water from Lake Michigan or from our local groundwater supply, and can reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy needed to treat, pump and heat water.  As an additional benefit, the lower energy demand helps prevent air pollution.

 While conserving and preserving water for future generations, Riverwoods residents also appreciate the diversity of plants and animals that flourish in our wetlands.  Let’s protect that future, for humans, plants and animals, by using this precious resource wisely.


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