Technical overview

Water supply systems get water from a variety of locations, including groundwater (aquifers), surface water (lakes and rivers), conservation and the sea through desalination. The water is then, in most cases, purified, disinfected through chlorination and sometimes fluoridated. Treated water then either flows by gravity or is pumped to reservoirs, which can be elevated such as water towers or on the ground (for indicators related to the efficiency of drinking water distribution see non-revenue water). Once water is used, wastewater is typically discharged in a sewer system and treated in a sewage treatment plant before being discharged into a river, lake or the sea or reused for landscaping, irrigation or industrial use (see also sanitation). Water conservation encompasses the policies, strategies and activities to manage fresh water as a sustainable resource to protect the water environment and to meet current and future human demand. Population, household size and growth and affluence all affect how much water is used. Factors such as climate change will increase pressures on natural water resources especially in manufacturing and agricultural irrigation. Water conservation programs are typically initiated at the local level, by either municipal water utilities or regional governments. Common strategies include public outreach campaigns,[4] tiered water rates (charging progressively higher prices as water use increases), or restrictions on outdoor water use such as lawn watering and car washing.[5] Cities in dry climates often require or encourage the installation of xeriscaping or natural landscaping in new homes to reduce outdoor water usage.[6] One fundamental conservation goal is universal metering. The prevalence of residential water metering varies significantly worldwide. Recent studies hav estimated that water supplies are metered in less than 30% of UK households,[7] and about 61% of urban Canadian homes (as of 2001).[8] Although individual water meters have often been considered impractical in homes with private wells or in multifamily buildings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that metering alone can reduce consumption by 20 to 40 percent.[9] In addition to raising consumer awareness of their water use, metering is also an important way to identify and localize water leakage. Water metering would benefit society in the long run it is proven that water metering increases the efficiency of the entire water system, as well as help unnecessary expenses for individuals for years to come. One would be unable to waste water unless they are willing to pay the extra charges, this way the water department would be able to monitor water usage by public, domestic and manufacturing services. Some researchers have suggested that water conservation efforts should be primarily directed at farmers, in light of the fact that crop irrigation accounts for 70% of the world's fresh water use.[10] The agricultural sector of most countries is important both economically and politically, and water subsidies are common. Conservation advocates have urged removal of all subsidies to force farmers to grow more water-efficient crops and adopt less wasteful irrigation techniques. New technology poses a few new options for consumers, features such and full flush and half flush when using a toilet are trying to make a difference in water consumption and waste. Also available in our modern world is shower heads that help reduce wasting water, old shower heads are said to use 5-10 gallons per minute. All new fixtures available are said to use 2.5 gallons per minute and offer equal water coverage.