Green Business Bureau Blog


Water Usage: Domestic vs. Commercial


As the world population grows, there is increasing concern about demand for natural resources like water. As numbers grow, water consumption grows. This part is inevitable. Management of water has to focus on manipulation of existing supplies since demand may not be altered significantly. Manipulation involves building dams, pipelines and other conveyance structures and making utilization methods (for example, irrigation) more efficient.

Domestic water use includes water used for regular household purposes such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, dish washing, laundry, household cleaning, watering lawns and gardens. It goes without saying that none of these can be curtailed as such but there is always room for greenification and efficient utilization of available water. For example water closets designed with water economy in mind have become available. These use significantly less water per flush than the conventional ones. Similarly, using less sudsy detergents will mean more efficient rinsing with less water used per rinse. Simply eliminating drippy taps and faucets, running washers when they have full loads and taking shorter showers can go an unbelievably long way.

Where water is concerned, quite literally each drop saved counts. Teaching children to shower more often than take a tub bath can mean a huge savings in water consumption per family unit per year. The beauty of this is that it encourages green thinking and sustainable habits, much like a vaccine for prevention of water related troubles in our planet’s future.

Between domestic use and industrial use lies the zone of agricultural use. This includes irrigation and livestock. The largest consumption among these is in irrigation, using up to 140 billion gallons per day in the United States alone. “Agriculture is a big business in the United States, and a lot of water is used to produce our food. In 2000, farmers used water to irrigate about 61,900,000 acres of land. That is about 96,700 square miles, which you can think of as a big, square plot of land about 311 miles on a side. And that is only the land that was irrigated; other land produced crops without the use of irrigation.” California tops the list in agricultural water usage.

The county and city water supply derives its water from rivers and other reservoirs like natural and man-made lakes. This is the water delivered to homes and businesses. Among the commercial users of water are restaurants, offices, hotels, mines, factories fisheries and hydel-power projects. However, with the advent of green business thinking, many businesses have started re-learning their practices. Among these also comes the efficient utilization of every drop of water and accountability for the same.

Compared to the total amount of water used in the United States, the amount taken up by commercial purposes is not large. “In 1995, the last year when commercial water-use data was compiled, about 2.9 of the 340 billion gallons per day (B gal/d) of fresh water used was withdrawn by the commercial sector. But, another 6.7 B gal/d was delivered to commercial facilities by public-suppliers, such as the local water department.”


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