WATER FOOTPRINT CALCULATOR from GRACE Communications Foundation will help you estimate your water usage and see where most of the water is used. There are also plenty of water saving tips for around the house, food choices, shopping smarter, and even energy use.
The EPA’S WATER SENSE CALCULATOR shows you how much water you can save by replacing older fixtures with newer WaterSense products. The page begins with indoor and outdoor water-saving tips – scroll down a little farther for the calculator. Click the images below the calculator for more water saving suggestions for spring, summer, fall and winter.
The HOME WATER WORKS CALCULATOR calculates water use in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and outdoors. It comes with plenty of water conservation tips for homes and businesses. Extensive tips on landscaping and irrigation go from site preparation and assessing the current landscape to types of water-saving plants and their placement in the landscape, installation, irrigation and maintenance.
The VIRTUAL WATER PROJECTS offers a large poster (33 x 47 in., 841 x 1189 mm) showing how much water is used in the production of everyday food products, and an interactive app for iPhone showing water use for an even broader range of products.
Threats to our fresh-water resources sound dismal, but there’s good news. We can reduce consumption and make a difference using good sense, green thumbs, art and – enthusiasm! On average Africans use 5–13 gallons of water/day. Europeans use 30 gallons/day. But North Americans use up to 150 gallons /person/day. Let’s use LESS and start new habits. Please think more consciously about how you currently use water, THEN use these ideas! Download PDF
- Cut your shower time in half – or use low-flow showerheads
- Collect shower run-off in a bucket for your plants; and use low-flow shower heads
- Turn water off while brushing your teeth
- Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when they are full
- Fix leaks or dripping faucets which on average waste 10,000 gallons a year per household
- Don’t flush when the water is just yellow, & use dual-flush, low-flow toilets and shower heads
- Recycle shower and kitchen-sink water, etc. for lawns, gardens – and use faucet aerators
- Delay doing laundry or showering during a storm to reduce urban storm-water runoff
- Take unused medications to your town’s Alternative Medicine Cabinet for safe disposal
- Reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers (compost instead!)
- Don’t dump garbage down storm drains or in waterways
- Don’t toss cigarette butts in the street – they are non-biodegradable
- Compost leaves and yard waste
- Direct gutters and spouts away from paved surfaces to reduce runoff into storm drains
- Wash cars on unpaved ground so soap won’t flow into storm drains, and use a bucket not a hose
- Check your car for oil leaks that might wash away into waterways
- Recycle motor oil – don’t toss it!
- Clean up your pets’ waste
- Have your septic tank and septic system inspected regularly
- Plant trees and drought-tolerant, native vegetation, and rain gardens to catch roof & driveway run-off
- Use rain sensors, drip irrigation – no sprinklers; don’t overwater or water during peak use times
- Use rain barrels and use that water to wash your car and water your plants
- Sweep your sidewalks, patios and driveways, rather than hosing them down
AS A CONSUMER
- Monitor your water usage on your bill and ask your municipality for a home water audit
- Buy appliances built to conserve water and energy
- Buy a water filter if needed, not individual plastic bottles of water
AS AN ASSET MANAGER
- Contribute what you can to stewardship agencies
- Invest in green funds
GET YOUR COMMUNITY INVOLVED
- Share ways you save water – and this list! – with your neighbors and friends
- Organize and join river, pond and highway Clean-Up Days to remove trash and pollutants
- Monitor your water quality – this can be done by school groups, clubs, etc.
- Enhance access points for fishing, boating, camping, photography…
- Restore riparian areas and establish riparian buffer zones to minimize flooding
- Plan educational walks and paddle trips
- Organize a “Save our Water” concert
- Start an Alternative Medicine Cabinet in your town for safe disposal of unused medicine
USE THE PRIVILEGES OF CITIZENSHIP
- Request low-flow showerheads and toilets in public places, hotels, gyms, etc.
- In public bathrooms, use hand dryers – not paper towels (1 ton of paper consumes 17 trees)
- Ask your local water company to install differentiated pipes to return recycled water for usage in laundry – toilets – gardens – even drinking water! (Orange County, CA, did this back in 1976. Even black water can be treated to be purer than the water you are drinking now!)
- Oppose development sprawl, new highways and impermeable surfaces
- Vote for development and funding of alternative, sustainable technologies
- Support land conservation and Open Space (only 13% of Earth is protected land)
- Tell your legislators what you’re doing – and then you can ask more of them!
- Demand legal and pricing controls for water usage so agriculture will turn to more effective irrigation and more drought-tolerant crops
- Ask your elected officials to create a 5- or 10-year plan with goals to cut water and energy usage
- Support mass transportation and request no salt is used to de-ice roadways
- Vote for town plans with denser communities to be more energy efficient and share
The following books that are on our own shelves do not constitute a comprehensive book list of all fine publications on watershed topics. We welcome further recommendations. For brevity, books are listed without secondary authors or publishers and lengthy titles may be abbreviated. Contact us if you would like further details on any of these books. We are continuously adding to our library, so keep checking this page for new books.
WATERSHED VALUES – Do we value our rivers enough?
Ajami, Newsha. The World’s Water Volume 8: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, 2014.
Clarke, Robin. The Water Atlas, 2004. Abundant maps, charts, facts and references present a quick analysis of today’s pressing water issues.
Doyle, Martin. The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers, 2018.
Fagan, Brian. Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind, 2011. Eye-opening lessons from the history of the world’s human civilizations suggest water ethos and management practices that could help foster global water security.
Hollyer, Beatrice. Our World of Water, 2008.
Lanz, Klaus. Who Owns the Water?, 2006.
Leopold, Luna B. A View of the River, 1994. These insights on research on rivers over the last fifty years are a great primer for any scientist, watershed steward, or natural resource manager.
Rezendes, Paul. Wetlands: The Web of Life, 1996. These descriptions and images of the values of wetlands reveal the beauty and importance of wetlands biomass – often 10 to 1,000 times that of dry land nearby.
Ryerson, Marjorie. Water Music, 2003. Water and music are as essential to life as their sounds are reassuring and enjoyable.
Salzman, James. Drinking Water: A History, 2012.
Stone, Nathanial. On the Water: Discovering America in a Row Boat, 2003.
Teal, John. Life and Death of the Salt Marsh, 1969.
Vincent, Warwick F. Lakes: A Very Short Introduction, 2018.
DAMS & LEVEES v. FREE FLOWING RIVERS
Grossman, Elizabeth. Watershed: The Undamming of America, 2002. Examining past, present and future attitudes towards damming, this book probes into dam removal as a means to returning rivers to former free-flowing healthy conditions.
Harden, Blaine. A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia, 1996. The Columbia one of the world’s most heavily dammed rivers in the world, has been called, “The West’s most thoroughly-conquered river.” The author investigates complex cultural and environmental prices of this sacrifice.
Hawley, Stephen. Recovering a Lost River, 2011. This probe investigates hurdles to the removal of four Snake River dams that prevent millions of salmon from migrating to their spawning grounds.
Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water, 1986. This tale of two rivers diverted and dammed reveals how the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and California politicians have controlled rivers in the US West for agriculture and booming urban centers.
Waldman, John. Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations, 2013. This author argues that the loss of river-fish in the Hudson and many East Coast rivers can be reversed allowing salmon, shad, herring and other fish to return.
WATER POLLUTION & EXTRACTION
Barlow, Maude. Blue Gold: Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, 2002 Bottled water and profit-driven water usage are said to pollute and deplete public water resources and hurt communities’ health and welfare.
_____. Blue Covenant: The Coming Battle for the Right to Water, 2007.
Bowden, Charles. Killing the Hidden Waters, 2003. This book notes impacts on our water resources by expanding populations and industrial growth.
Glennon, Robert. Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It, 2009. Water security is described as dependent on whether our leaders will restrain over-extraction by agriculture, industry and the energy sector.
Orff, Kate and Richard Misrach. Petrochemical America, 2010.
Morris, Robert D. The Blue Death, 2007
CLIMATE CHANGE & POPULATION GROWTH
Churchill, Winston. The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan, (1899). British Imperialists in Sudan were focused on Egypt’s need for water from the Upper Nile. Today, threats of Nile Basin conflicts continue as Sudan and Egypt refuse to sign the Nile Basin Compact on water sharing, which the other 8 Nile Basin countries have endorsed as equitable.
Collins (ed). Fragile Earth: Views of a Changing World, 2006. Acknowledging the constancy of environmental change, this book demands we face today’s new challenges of changing coastlines, expanding cities and advancing deserts.
Ellis, Erie. Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction, 2018
Englander, John. High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis, 2012.
Gregory, James N. American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California, 1989.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes from Catastrophe, 2006.
Pearce, Fred. When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century, 2006. This author presents a thirty-country overview of ground-shifting water issues and need for a new water ethos.
Prud’homme, Alex. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century, 2011. This broad-based inquiry asks whether there will be enough drinkable water to satisfy future demand.
Siegel, Seth M. Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World, 2015.
Smolan. Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water, 2007. Using supporting facts, this large photographic book tells of a global relay race recording the human face of growing water crises.
Workman, James G. Heart of Dryness: How the Last Bushmen Can Help Us Endure the Coming Age of Permanent Drought, 2009.
STEWARDSHIP & RESTORATION
Barlow, Maude. Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever, 2013. This hopeful book offers ways to safeguard Earth’s most critical resource for a “water-secure” and “water-just” future.
Barnett, Cynthia. Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, 2011. Writing of global, innovative water projects, the author promotes stewardship tactics ranging from thrift to water gardens.
Bridenbaugh, Carl. Cities in the Wilderness, 1938.
Cronin, John and Robert F. Kennedy. The Riverkeepers, 1997. These authors took on polluters, politicians, and corporations in their fight for a clean Hudson River, from which Riverkeepers and Waterkeeper Alliance grew into international efforts to maintain clean rivers.
Jackson, Dana and Laura. The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems, 2002. This view of agricultural issues ties together Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and 21st-century farming issues to inspire innovation and change on farms, in landscapes and with irrigation.
Janksy, Libor. Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources, 2005.
Joseph, May. Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination, 2013. Coming after Hurricane Sandy battered New York’s archipelago of heavily-populated islands, this book proposes urban waterfront restoration, civic engagement and a commitment to ecological sustainability.
Kinkade-Levario, Heather. Design for Water: Rainwater Harvesting, Stormwater Catchement, and Alternative Water Reuse, 2007. This author presents innovative means of water collection and reuse, such as passive harvesting of water from condensate from fog, air conditioning and cooling towers – with helpful installation diagrams.
Kurlansky, Mark. The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, 2007. This compelling history discusses the cultural, gastronomic and ecological influences of oysters, especially in New York City.
Orff, Kate. Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park, 2011. The New York-New Jersey Harbor. This renowned urban-restoration architect outlines the unrealized potentials for the coastal lands of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey.
Pacheo, Elizabeth. The Water Book: A User’s Guide, 2011. This little paperback explores choices that could assure sustainable water resources and empower people to be stewards of water supplies.
Rawding, David. Taking on Water, 2015.
Richter, Brian. Chasing Water: Moving From Scarity to Sustainability (2014). This book proposes that citizen-empowered water governance and stewardship can provide durable, effective solutions to water scarcity.
Ricoveri, Giovanna. Nature for Sale: The Commons versus Commodities, 2013.
Roseland, Mark Roseland. Toward Sustainable Communities, 1992.
Segerfeldt, Frederick. Water For Sale, 2005.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation, 2011.
Webber, Karl. Last Call at the Oasis: The Global Water Crisis and Where We Go from Here, 2012.
Wood, Mary Christina. Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age, 2014. The author claims environmental law must ensure public property rights are given to vital resources, per the public trust doctrine.
WATER CRISIS OVERVIEW
Cambronne, Al. Deerland: America’s Hunt for Ecological Balance and the Essence of Wildness, 2013.
Helgen, Judith Cairncross. Peril in the Ponds: Deformed Frogs, Politics, and a Biologist’s Quest, 2012.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, 2014.
Outwater, Alice B. Water, 1996.
Petrella, Riccardo. The Water Manifesto, 2001.
Villiers, Marq de. Water, 1999.
Klare, Michael T. Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict, 2001. Addressing riparian rights as perhaps the greatest problem of the future, this author documents worrisome conflicts from the Mideast to China, from tribal African regions to arid ranches in the Colorado River Basin.
Shiva, Vandana. Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit, 2002. The Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy contends that the fragility of communal water rights in the face of international water trade, damming, mining and aqua-farming leaves the world’s poor with less water.
Ward, Diane Raines. Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst, 2002. Looking at what does and doesn’t insure water availability, this book details the work of hydrologists, politicians, engineers and others in trying to solve water conflicts.
Visit our Teaching Tools page for our list of Children’s Book on Water
NWNL offers this list as a helpful resource, but does not necessarily endorse the viewpoints of the videos below.
Mother Nature Is Speaking by Conservation International, 2014 (1:58). We need nature, even though nature doesn’t need us!
Big Question: What is Nature Worth? by Natural Capital Project, 2010 (3:16). What biodiversity cost is really costing us.
Bidiversity 2010 by the International League of Conservation Photographers, 2010 (3:22). Fraying the fabric of flora, fauna, ecosystems and indigenous cultures.
Water-Drop at 2000 frames per second Discovery Channel’s ‘Time Warp’ series (2:30). High-speed photography explains the physics of “coalesce.”
Water 1st – Imagine by Water 1st International, 2010 (4:00). Safe water is a basic human right.
Whats’ a Watershed? by matamatamusic, 2009 (1:01). Graphics defining the concept of watershed.
Why Watersheds Matter by Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships, 2009 (2:39). Forested watersheds in our everyday lives.