Rainy Days: Think twice about your water use

Day 119 – Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of getting water in our basements during or after a heavy rain. If you haven’t, consider yourself very lucky. It is not fun and the clean up is a real pain. Many times the problem is caused by too much rain, too fast. The sewer system can not keep up.

Now imagine, showers and laundry being done during these downpours. All that added water to an already overtaxed sewer system is just way too much to handle. The result is the release of untreated wastewater into the Chicago River system.

“As little as 0.3 inches of rain, depending on the location and severity, can trigger a combined sewer overflow at any number of over 300 outfalls that flow directly into the Chicago River and Little Calumet River.”Friends of the Chicago River

The Friends of the Chicago River created Overflow Action Days. Just like Ozone Action Day alerts people to reduce their ozone producing activities, Overflow Action Day alerts people to reduce their water use. Overflow Action Day is an attempt to relieve pressure on the sewer system to protect the river system.

Here are some ways to reduce your water use during Overflow Action Days, as suggested by the Friends of the Chicago River:

  1. Reduce your shower time: A ten minute shower can use as much as 40 gallons per minute. Depending on your showerhead, reducing your shower by three minutes can save between eight and 22 gallons of water.
  2. Delay laundry: Rainy days are lazy days. You have our permission. Delaying laundry will reduce the amount of soapy water that might end up in the river.
  3. Delay dish washing. But if you must, use a dishwasher if you have one. Running a full dishwasher requires about 20 gallons of water compared to 40 gallons if you washed the same number of dishes by hand.
  4. Flush less: Each flush can use between 1.6 to five gallons of water. Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. It’s estimated 75% of indoor water use is in the bathroom and a quarter of that is through toilets.

You can sign up for Overflow Action Alerts. You can also keep an eye on the weather. If significant rain is forecasted consider reducing your water use. Do your part to help protect our rivers and the plants and animals that call them home.

Tomorrow, eco-friendly ways to wrap gifts.