Processing Magazine

Many Americans do not know how much water they use, survey reveals

March 18, 2014

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According to a new survey published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Americans are vastly underestimating the amount of water they use in their everyday life.

The average American uses twice the amount of water they believe they do on a daily basis, the Los Angeles Times reported. Misconceptions regarding water use are the biggest when it comes to the amount of water flushed down the toilet and water consumption associated with the production of certain foods.

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Study author Shahzeen Attari, an assistant professor in the Department of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, explained that perceptions of both water use and electricity use differed significantly from the actual figures, but water consumption was more accurately accessed than electricity use.

Even more alarmingly, very few Americans are actually aware of how they could best conserve water. For example, the majority of those polled believed that changing their habits would result in the biggest savings and were unaware of the fact that switching to more energy-efficient technology could be much more effective, the study found. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends the use of low-flow or water-conserving toilets but the survey revealed that barely 2 percent of consumers were aware of these options.