HONORABLE MENTION WINNER, GRADES 9-12
Grade 9, Wilmington High School, Wilmington
Carol Mutchler, Teacher
Every day the US home uses about 100 gallons of water. We use water for drinking, bathing, growing crops, and washing our dishes and clothes. It is very important to conserve and manage water because you can't make it. Massachusetts has always been lucky to have enough water for its needs. Twenty-six years ago, Massachusetts was using too much water. To prevent a water supply crisis the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resource Authority) started a major water conservation program in 1986. The MWRA did many different things. For example, it found many leaks in community pipes and fixed them. It installed better quality meters that helped track water use in the communities. The MWRA started using more up-to-date water technology that was more efficient. By 1989, the amount of water being used was in the safe range. Of all the things the MWRA did to reduce the amount of water wasted, the one I think was the most effective was a public and school education and information program.
This outreach program encouraged the public to conserve water by providing brochures and educational materials that informed them about the importance of conserving water and ways to do it. One way to reduce water usage is taking a shower instead of a bath. When you take a bath you use at least 70 gallons of water. Instead of using all that water you can take a five minute shower and only use about 10-25 gallons of water. To make it even more environmentally friendly you can change to a low-flow shower head. Switching to a low-flow toilet and a low-flow faucet will also save water. A low-flow toilet can save about 5 gallons per flush. Another way to reduce the usage of water is to fix leaky faucets. A leaky faucet can leak around 100 gallons of water every single day! Fixing it will save a lot of water. A good way to save water is by using an automatic dishwasher to wash dishes instead of washing them by hand. It can save about 9-12 gallons of water. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving is another way to save water. It takes two gallons to brush your teeth so shutting off the water while you brush will save at least two gallons of water. All of these actions can reduce our water foot print. A water footprint is the total amount of freshwater used by homes and companies.
When people water their lawns and gardens they usually use a water sprinkler. Water sprinklers can waste a huge amount of water unless they are designed to be water efficient. A way to make your water sprinkler system water efficient is by putting plants with similar water needs near each other. By doing this you will be hydrozoning. The reason you do this is because when the sprinklers water the shrubs, the ones that need more water will be in the same place. This way all the water won't be wasted on plants and shrubs that do not need that much water. Another way to make your water sprinkler more efficient is by using an automatic timer. An automatic timer can only save water if you use it properly. For example in the spring and fall you should set the timer for less time because you don't need as much water during those times compared to the summer. Turning off the sprinklers when it is raining is another smart thing to do.
The MWRA has taught students about the importance of conserving water. They created educational programs for kindergarteners through college students. They gave classroom presentations, trained teachers, and gave them conservation guides, bookmarks, and even coloring books. These educational programs encouraged future generations to value and use water wisely.
The MWRA's public and school education and information program changed the way the public used water. The changes people made in their homes decreased the water footprint for each household. By doing these many different things Massachusetts households have reduced the amount of water used every day. Instead of using 69 gallons of water indoors many families are using closer to 40 gallons a day. While the people were saving water they were also saving money. When they used less water their bills decreased! This encouraged the public to conserve water. Making people realize how much water they were using helped the MWRA to reduce the amount of water used and prevented a water crisis in Massachusetts.
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