Access to fresh, clean water is foundational to health. Keeping our oceans, groundwater, and reservoirs free of pollutants prevents human exposures to chemicals and heavy metals that can cause serious health effects.
Our 2025 goal: We will reduce the amount of water we use by 25 percent per square foot of buildings.
From 2013 – 2015, Kaiser Permanente achieved a 15 percent reduction in water use intensity. That is a savings of 240 million gallons a year through rainwater harvesting, low flow sinks and toilets, grey water re-use, and drought-resistant landscaping.
And we’re not done yet. We continue to find even more ways to reduce the use of water throughout our health care system:
- Solar and wind energy use much less water in production than fossil fuel or nuclear power. Our shift to these renewable energy sources will reduce our “water footprint” by 100 million gallons of water a year.
- Our use of digital X-ray processing enhances image analysis while also cutting down on large amounts of water and chemicals needed for traditional film processing.
- Discouraging the purchase of single-use water bottles supports healthy communities, cost savings, clean air and water, as well as greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
What you can do
- If your toilet is from 1992 or earlier, you probably have an inefficient model that uses at least 3.5 gallons per flush. Switch to a WaterSense labeled model that uses less than 1.28 gallons per flush—that is at least 60 percent less than their older, less efficient counterparts.
- Leaky faucets and toilets can waste several thousands of gallons of water each year. Fix those leaks! If you read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when water is not being used and the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak. To tell if your toilet has a leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank; if the color shows in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
- Use a high-efficiency washing machine that uses less than 28 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing machine.
- A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. If you take a bath, plug the drain and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub.
- The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month!
- The typical single-family suburban household uses at least 30 percent of their water outdoors for irrigation (experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by overwatering). Drip irrigation systems use between 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional in-ground sprinkler systems.