Americans Use Twice as Much Water as They Think

3/6/2014 12:40:39 PM

Americans, often oblivious to how much water they use each day and the best ways to conserve it, end up using twice as much as they think they do, according to a new study from researchers at Indiana University.

Amid a drought that stretches from the Pacific coast to the Mississippi River, the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- based on an Internet survey of 1,020 people -- found that people in the United States lowball their water use by a factor of two.

"Most Americans assume that water supply is both reliable and plentiful," wrote the study's lead author, Shahzeen Attari.

A leaky faucet. (Credit: Flickr/Ricelife)

And the misperceptions don't stop there, the study found. Most survey respondents said they would save the most water by taking shorter showers and turning the tap off during activities like brushing their teeth.

Previous research has found that 28 percent of household water use comes from toilet flushing. A higher-efficiency clothes washer would be the next best water saver, according to experts.

The average human needs about 13.2 gallons of water each day to meet basic needs, according to Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute in Oakland. But the average American used about 98 gallons a day in 2005 (Monte Morin, Los Angeles Times, March 3).

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