City and Borough of Juneau
155 S. Seward Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
tel. 907-586-5240
fax 907-586-5385

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Water Utility

Water Conservation

Water conservation in the rain forest? Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink! For as much as it rains in Juneau, there are surprisingly few sources of high quality drinking water that require only minimal treatment prior to distribution.

Nationwide, Americans flush more than five billion gallons of water down the toilet. That is about three and one half billion gallons more than is actually needed for effective flushing. Americans also shower with three billion gallons of water per day, about twice what is needed.

While water is still relatively inexpensive in most parts of the country, including Juneau, the situation is changing. Overextending water sources and overloading sewage treatment plants are good reasons to not waste water. Conservation makes sense from several points of view. For conservationists, it means fewer new water sources resulting in fewer environmental damages. For municipalities and consumers, it means postponing or canceling costly new water supplies and wastewater treatment facilities. For the consumer, it also means energy savings from reduced hot water demands and savings in water and sewer bills for people on metered systems.

A typical U.S. household's conventional toilet uses 3.5 - 7.0 gallons/flush. Conventional showerheads and faucets have a maximum flow rate of 3.0 - 8.0 gallons/minute (gpm). Current water-efficient toilets use 1.6 gallons/flush and water-efficient showerheads and faucets have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gpm.

Continuously running water in the toilet due to a leaking reservoir is another waste of water.

In 1988 Massachusetts amended its plumbing code to require the use of toilets that use only 1.6 gallons/flush. As a result of the Massachusetts initiative, several other states, cities, and regional authorities have adopted laws or plumbing codes requiring 1.6 gallons/flush toilets. Some require also water-efficient shower heads, faucets, and urinals. The National Plumbing Products Efficiency Act was introduced in 1989. This legislation sets forth three broad federal provisions to establish:

  1. National water-efficiency standards for plumbing fixtures and appliances, including toilets, showerheads, kitchen and lavatory faucets, urinals, clothes washers and dishwashers.
  2. Requirements for plumbing-fixture labeling information modeled after the federal "Energy Use Guide" required on electrical appliances and all fixtures to be marked to indicate water- use rates; and
  3. A national water-use data base to monitor U.S. water demand and need, particularly as they relate to use of plumbing fixtures and appliances.

If water-efficient fixtures were used, a new household water budget of 21 gal/person/day or 2,100 gallons/month may be possible. This would represent a savings of over 70% and could result in significant direct and indirect savings both to the consumer and utility.

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