Green Lancaster header displaying a picture of an Amish buggy, and corn field, horses in a field, cows being milked, and windmills.

Educate >Water Efficiency > My Project

 

WATER EFFICIENCY

Today many people tend to be careless with the overuse of water. There are plenty of ways to minimize your water usage daily. Whether it’s purchasing water saving appliances, Changing the way you use water, or taking precautions daily you can help save water usage. This site gives you an insight to how and what you can do to use water sparingly as well as how to recycle your water.

People in Lancaster are continuing to be more efficient about their water. This website will also give you history about water to help you better understand where all the rules and regulations are coming from. After visiting this website you will have a better understanding of water and how Lancaster city’s water is.

HISTORY

PURIFYING CITY WATER

PHARMACEUTICALS IN WATER

GREY WATER

WATER EFFICIENT APPLIANCES FOR YOUR HOME

WATER SAVING HINTS

QUIZ: HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR WATER?

 

HISTORY:

How have we kept our water clean?

In order to understand where our water comes from it is important that you understand the history behind our water. The Clean Water Act is an important Act to understand how the U.S. has some of the safest drinking water in the world. It is broken down into specific sections of the Act that have a big impact on the cleanliness of our water.

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act also known as The Clean Water Act in 1972 helped to govern water pollution, eliminated toxic substances, and upped the standards for quality water in America. This Act’s main goals were to restore the chemical, physical and biological issues with our nation’s water.  Although this Act was started nearly 25 years before 1972, it was not expanded and reorganized until 1972. Since then continues to be amended almost every year.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also authorized to treat Indian tribes for purposes of water quality standards and other stipulations under this Act.  This Act was the for-runner for the water quality movement in the United States.

Section 303:

A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is the “calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutant's sources.” These standards are set by different states and tribes. They identify each water body for the use of drinking, swimming, and fishing. This section of the Clean Water Act also states, “A TMDL is the sum of the allowable loads of a single pollutant from all contributing point and nonpoint sources. The calculation must include a margin of safety to ensure that the water body can be used for the purposes the State has designated. The calculation must also account for seasonal variation in water quality.” The Clean Water Act Section 303 establishes the standards for water quality and for the TMDL programs.

Section 404:

This section of the Clean Water Act is highly important with the cleanliness of our water and is known as Section 404 as adopted by the Congress.

It States,“The requirement that persons wanting to dispose of dredged or fill material in navigable waters obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is important to the current debate over the protection of wetlands.The Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Administrator to adopt guidelines for disposal sites. Applying these guidelines, the Corps may issue permits on an individual basis or may issue general permits on a state, regional or national basis. A general permit may be issued for any category of activities that are similar in nature, will cause only minimal environmental effects when performed separately, and will have only minimal cumulative adverse impact on the environment. The Secretary of the Army is required to notify United States Fish and Wildlife Service, USFWS when an application for an individual permit is received and when the Secretary proposes to issue a general permit. USFWS must submit any comments on the application or the proposed general permit within 90 days. EPA is authorized to prohibit the use of a site for disposal if discharges would have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds, fishery areas, and wildlife or recreational uses. On the other hand, permits are not required for certain types of activity, such as the discharge of dredged or fill material resulting from ordinary farming, and ranching activities.”

The NationalPollutantDischargeEliminationSystem (NPDES) was introduced in 1972 and was established by the federal government to control point-source discharges of water pollution. Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities.

As approved by the Clean Water Act, the NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating different point sources that send impurities into waters in the United States. These sources are discrete and are used with pipes and/or man-made ditches.

Homes that are connected to a community system usually use a septic system and therefore do not have a surface discharge. These homes do not need NationalPollutantDischargeEliminationSystem permit.

On the other hand industrial, public, and any other facility much get a permit from NationalPollutantDischargeEliminationSystem if their discharge goes directly into the surface waters. This permit program has, and is responsible for the vast improvements to our water quality in the U.S.

The Safe Drinking Water Act came not too long after in 1974. This law states, The Act requires a recall of drinking water coolers with lead lined tanks. Drinking water supplies in school must not be contaminated by lead. Any pipe, solder, or flux, which is used after June 19, 1986 in the installation or repair of any public water system, or any plumbing in a residential or nonresidential facility providing water for human consumption which is connected to a public water system, shall be lead free. This prohibition does not apply to leaded joints necessary for the repair of cast iron pipes.” This law set more implicit by standards to protect our health and our economy from water pollution. This Act made it clear that water could NOT be contaminated by lead, and the water pumps must be safe for the flow of water.

People across the country are constantly working towards keeping our water as clean as possible. We need to continue to work towards making our water fishable, swimable, and of course drinkable. Even though it seems like these laws were passed years ago, we are still striving to make our water the best it can be.

 

PURIFYING CITY WATER

Philadelphia:

The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is located on two rivers. The Delaware River and Schuylkill River, both running along side or through the city of Philadelphia. This is a perfect location for a major city, (which is just less than 80 miles away from us here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania). 
In Philadelphia, the location of these rivers has really help keep the environment for years. In the city the drinking water mostly comes from Schuylkill River, and the Delaware River deals with the businesses.

In Philadelphia, like in most major cities every day the cities water produces gallons and gallons of water. Specifically in the inner city of Philadelphia, it is recorded that 680 gallons of clean water are produced or delivered daily. The water department in Philadelphia also disposes the cities waste water properly.

So who exactly is responsible for providing the safe drinking water for families throughout the city of Philadelphia?

The Water Treatment Authority takes care of getting the people in the city their drinking water. This drinking water is taken from the Schuylkill River and it then takes each fluid ounce of water, and approximately thirty four hours later will replace the waste water. This is why it is important to be conserving of water. For every gallon of water that is flushed away, it took thirty four to prepare.

Lancaster:

In the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania we have two water sources as the main resource. The water is from the Susquehanna River and from the Conestoga River. Water in Lancaster is tested daily, with sixty percent of water coming from the Susquehanna River and forty percent of water coming from the Conestoga River it is important to run it through tests daily.

The lab in the city runs a little over 32,000 chemical and bacteria tests a year. State laws in Pennsylvania require that all city water must be tested even more thoroughly than bottled water. There are two different Water Treatment Plants, the Conestoga Water Treatment Plant and the Susquehanna Water Treatment Plant.

The Conestoga Water Treatment Plant takes in all the raw water, and after sending it through the mixing chambers, the water is sent to eight different high rate filters. All the filtered water is measured with chlorine and fluoride for disinfections, and is then sent to the clear well. They take very careful precautions to ensure safe water

The Susquehanna Water Treatment Plant gets it water from the Susquehanna River by an intake structure. There is a pump station that transfers water about 1.5 miles from the River to the Plant. The Raw Water is mixed with the needed elements and then sent to a three clarifiers. The settled water is then sent to twelve different high rate filters. All the filtered water is measured with chlorine and fluoride for disinfections, and is then sent to the clear well, same filtering process as the Conestoga Water Treatment Plant. Both Water Treatment plants are continuing to improve their water, and are always trying to take there plant to the next level.

Filtering water, is a long drawn out process, and I don’t think people are always thinking about that when letting there faucet run. Water constantly seems like it is an endless supply. It is important to be aware of how much water you are using. Even in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the city has two major Rivers running through, and the water supply seems never ending, Philadelphians should always try to conserve their water. Or if you are in Lancaster also receiving water from two major rivers it is extremely important to be smart with your water. These plants are trying to keep our water the best for us, and we should all try to conserve our most vital resource.

 

How is the Lancaster City water?

Many people are always hesitant to drink any type of City water because, it doesn’t taste “as good” as their bottled water, or because many people think it is just dirty water. Although people may complain, the City of Lancaster drinking water meets and exceeds all local, state and federal drinking water regulations.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania has a Water Chemistry Lab that monitors the water twenty four hours a day, and three hundred and sixty five days a year. There are daily tests done to examine the taste and odor of the water. This helps during the season when the algae on the Conestoga River affect the taste of the water a couple times a year.

Since there are sometimes complaints about taste and odor in the Lancaster City water, the city is always doing what they can to improve it. The treatment plant adds carbon and potassium permanganate to help to reduce the taste and odor. These chemicals do not carry over when they are sent through as drinking water. This taste and smell comes from the algae and are very hard to get rid of using the current treatment methods at the Water Treatment Plants.

The Water Bureau of Lancaster City is in the process of constructing two main filter treatment plants that will give the operators more availability to remove, or at least reduse the taste and odor. These new treatment plants are supposed to be up and running, a year from now (Spring 2009).      

 

PHARMACEUTICALS IN WATER    

Are pharmaceuticals finding there way into our water?

For over ten years now studies are being done that pharmaceutical drugs and like wise drugs are getting into our water supply. This is having effect not only in Pennsylvania, but with millions of Americans.

Recent studies in the Philadelphia area, “supplies showed 56 pharmaceuticals or their by-products in treated drinking water; 63 such compounds were discovered in city watersheds.” Most drugs that have moved through the human body and out into the water supply are filtered out in the Water Treatment Plants, however there are a few that can still be in your water.

Birth control pills, ibuprofen, sunscreen, mouthwash and antibacterial soap, to name a few any of these could end up in your next glass of tap water. There are about one hundred and forty rivers that have been analyzed and found hundred of prescription and over the counter drugs in the water supply.

There are many situations where tiny drug particles were found in a river where that water is recycled, then flowing from one cities sewer plant into another cities drinking water. There are many cities that can not afford charcoal filters that are needed when cleansing out all the traces of the products from the drinking water.

The lead author of the United States Geological Survey, Dana Koplin states, “At these low concentrations, I think there are going to be long-term effects that may take several generations to show up.” Although these issues are still being investigated we might start noticing long term effects. This paints a different picture of what’s in our water, but maybe eventually they government will require charcoal filters in every city so that we would be able to eliminate these problems.

 

GREY WATER

What is the Grey Water?

Grey water: Grey water can also be referred to as, grey water reuse, grey water treatment, or gray water. (Not to be confused with what is called: black water, which is “bad” water that comes from the toilet and garbage disposal.)Grey water is any water that has already been used in your household, besides the water from your toilet.

Grey water is wastewater from:

  • Bathtubs
  • Showers
  • Bathroom Sinks
  • Washing Machines
  • Dishwashers
  • Kitchen Sinks

This would include water from the sink, dishwasher, washing machine, and shower. Although these waters are used as “waste,” they can be reused in various other ways.The most well know way you can reuse grey water is for irrigation purposes, but there are many other ways you can benefit from grey water recycling as well. Many of these include:

  • Plant’s growth
  • Less fresh water use
  • Less strain on local treatment plant
  • Less energy and chemical use

Some Benefits of Grey Water Usage: 

Plant’s growth: Grey water could help to water plants that may not get that much water based on where they live, the weather, and season.

Less fresh water use: Grey water can easy be used in place of fresh water in many ways. This will help save money and help in areas where irrigation is needed. Everything but your toilet water could be recycled outside.

Less strain on local treatment plant: Grey water being used means the Water Treatment Plants have a higher effectiveness and therefore will be less expensive.

Less energy and chemical use: Less energy and chemicals are used due to the reduced amount of both new water and waste water that needs filtering and treatment. (When recycling your own water and having it go back into your soil, it will make people more likely to not use your drain to dump medicines and other toxins.)

Did you know?

  • Grey water makes up the largest portion of wastewater from your home….up to 40 gallons per person each day.
  • Grey water systems must irrigate below ground surface by using a drain field or a suitable drip irrigation system to reduce health risks.
  • Grey water systems are usually cheaper and easier to install during construction of a new home.
  • There are some chemicals in grey water that actually can be harmful to plants (For information see Grey Water Plant Choices).

How do I Safely install and use grey water irrigation system?

    1. CONTACT your county health agency for:
      • Wastewater Treatment System Permits
      • Design Requirements
      • Have a list of qualified Designers and Installers
    1. DEVELOP a design that matches your specific needs and options for grey water use. The design of the system will depend on:
      • The source and characteristics of site
      • Local code requirements
      • How, when, and where the grey water will be used
    1. APPLY grey water safely by:
      • Irrigating with grey water below the surface ground
      • Irrigating ornamental landscapes, such as shrubs, trees, and flowers
      • Regularly checking your grey water system to be sure it is functioning properly

      (This information was obtained from Washington State Department of Health Office of Environmental Health and Safety Wastewater Management Program)

WATER EFFICIENT APPLIANCES FOR YOUR HOME:

People are gradually becoming more knowledgeable on water efficient appliances, and the more educated a person becomes on how much water they can save in one single shower, or the gallons of water you can save when flushing your toilet. Simple everyday tasks, call for a lot of water and water saving appliances can help you tremendously. Here are some of the appliances that can be used in your household:

  • Low flow toilets
  • Low flow shower heads
  • Water saving washing machine
  • Water saving dishwasher
  • Sink fixtures

You have to know that the water efficient appliances have the purchase price, as well as the upkeep costs. Instead of just comparing the price of a water saving appliance versus a regular appliance price, you must think that you will most likely use for the next 10 plus years, and you have to think of how much water you will save in that amount of time.

ADVANTAGES TO USING WATER EFFICIENT APPLIANCES:

Low flow showerheads and low flow toilets are very efficient. They can radically reduce your water consumption without a huge difference while taking a shower. By saying low flow, it means not having as much water flow all at one time. Low flow shower heads are affordable and very easy to install. This will save you money every month on your water and water waste bills. These are things that everyone can do and many people in Lancaster are already buying homes with these appliances already installed. Many cities have talked about requiring these fixtures in new construction, and many real estates in Lancaster have started automatically installing low flow appliances.

More Specifically…

Low Flow Toilets: Toilets accounts for a major amount of water used daily around the world. Today, a new toilet uses no more than 1.6 gallons of water in the U.S. There are a number of facts that play into how well the low flow toilets work, this has to do with the size of the drain, the shape of the toilet bowl, the size of the tank, and how often the toilet is used. Low flow toilets are the toilets of the 21st century.

Low Flow Shower Heads: Shower heads account for a large number of the water used in your household. Shower heads use twice the water needed for a long, enjoyable shower. There is over three billion gallons of water that is used through shower heads in the United States. The amount of water that goes through a shower head is measured in gallons per minute. This is called flow rate. You can reduce this flow rate greatly by, switching from a regular shower head to a low flow shower head, it doesn’t take long to change, and is not that expensive.

Water saving washing machine: Water saving washing machine save gallons of water per load. Also to save water, only use your washer when you have a full load. People on average can use up to 50 gallons of water per load. When getting a washing machine you can get one that uses at least half of 50 gallons per load.

Water saving dishwasher: Dishwashers are usually more environmentally friendly than hand washing, but they still use a large amount of water. Water saving models reduces water consumption greatly. A person on average uses up to 12 gallons of water per load, make sure you always run your dishwasher when it is completely full. 

Sink: Adding a low flow reducer in the water pipe, a low flow fixture, or even an attachment to the existing fixture can reduce water use.
Just fixing these appliances and fixtures in your house will help you save water and money. So think logically and water friendly when buying your next appliance!

 

WATER SAVING HINTS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION:

  • When you are washing your dishes, do NOT let the water run.
  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are completely full.
  • Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost instead.
  • Plant during the spring when the watering requirements are lower. When trying to defrost, wash your produce in the sink or a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and/or sidewalk.
  • Use a water-efficient shower-head.
  • Install low-volume or low-flow toilets.
  • Go to a car wash that recycles water.
  • This not only saves water, but also time, wash your face and brush your teeth while in the shower.
  • When you are washing your hands after the bathroom, do NOT let the water run.
  • If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, do NOT throw them in the sink! Drop them in a house plant instead!
  • If you’re a guy, do NOT leave the water running when you are shaving!
  • Check your sprinkler system and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not your sidewalk, driveway, or car.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks.
  • Water your summer yards only once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days, there is no need for it everyday.
  • Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  • Give your pets a bath outside in an area that needs to be watered.

 

QUIZ:

How Much Do You Know About Your Water?

The Clean Water Act is an important Act, to know and understand water efficiency; here is a quick true false quiz you can take to see how much you actually know.

  1. Environmental Protection Agency’s TMDL regulations do not stipulate the manner in which permitted loads are due.
  1. The Clean Water Act states to set water quality standards for both surfaces waters and ground waters.
  1. Changing a water body’s designated use would require a change in the numeric water quality due to TMDL.
  1. The Clean Water Act does fund and support ground water protection efforts.
  1. If you are an American Indian Tribe, you must have federal recognition as well as legal jurisdiction over the waters they use.
  1.  The section of the Clean Water Act stating “fishable,” the main objective is to provide acceptable populations of sporting fish.
  1. NPDES stands for Never Pollute Discharge Even in Seas
  1. The Section 404 of The Clean Water Act regulates activities that involve the discharge of dredged or fill material resulting from ordinary farming, and ranching activities.
  1. The NationalPollutantDischargeEliminationSystem (NPDES) program covers storm water runoff, and runoff from businesses.
  1. Under Section 404, it states United States Fish and Wildlife Service must submit any comments on the application or the proposed general permit within 90 days.

ANSWERS:

  1. True, 2.False, 3.True, 4.True, 5.True, 6.False, 7. False , 8.True, 9.True, 10.True

 


This site was created by Kristin Kunzman who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Last updated on November 4, 2008

© 2007 Millersville University. All Rights Reserved.

...