Pennsylvanians have access to an abundance of water much of the time, so the importance of clean water is often overlooked. For most of us, water use is a habit. We are accustomed to having water available at the twist of a faucet. We usually do not think about how much water we use.
In 1900, each of the 6 million people living in Pennsylvania used about 5 gallons of water per day. Since then, our population has doubled to almost 12 million people, and our water consumption has increased to an average of 50 gallons per person per day.
Part of this 900 percent increase in water use is due to the many modern water-using conveniences in our homes, such as automatic dishwashers, clothes washers, garbage disposals, and home water treatment systems. A significant change in water use occurred when the bathroom was moved indoors. It is ironic that we use one of the most precious resources to carry our waste away.
Our water resources are not unlimited. They are affected every day by precipitation, population growth, economic development, and pollution. Because water is a resource that must be shared, competition for its use is an ever increasing management problem.
In the past, we attempted to alleviate our supply problems by constructing storage facilities and developing new resources such as wells and reservoirs. However, these measures can be costly, both economically and environmentally.
A more cost-effective way to protect our water resources is through sound management or conservation.