SALT LAKE CITY – There appears to be some confusion when it comes to water conservation.
A new <a href=”http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/26/1316402111″ target=”parent”>survey</a> finds many people underestimate how much water they use in their daily activities.
Study author Shahzeen Attari, an assistant professor at Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, says most people believe curtailing use is the best strategy to save water, but efficiency measures are actually more effective.
Particularly in a state like Utah, she says water is an essential but neglected resource, and people need a better understanding of how to save it.
“We need to know what actions are really impactful when it comes to decreasing our water use,” Attari points out. “That would be important, especially in a short-term or in a long-term drought.”
According to the survey, a large percentage of people cited taking shorter showers, which Attari says does save water but may not be the most effective action.
Very few participants cited replacing toilets or flushing less, even though toilets use the greatest daily indoor water volume.
The survey found men and older people, and those who have a good understanding of numerical concepts, were more likely to have an accurate perception of water use.
But Attari says most people have no idea of, for instance, how much water is needed to produce everyday foods.
“A lot of water actually went into growing the coffee beans that went into making my coffee,” she says. “So, how is it that people will adapt to the drought and climate change if we have no understanding about how much water goes into making our food?”
Attari stresses the goal of the survey was to correct perceptions and encourage people to adopt more effective efficiency measures to save water at home.
The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.