Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

The City of Evanston’s Water Division and Office of Sustainability are proud to support the American Water Works Association (AWWA) in kicking off Drinking Water Week 2011, May 1 and May 7.

Throughout the week, AWWA and its partners will celebrate water by recognizing the essential role it plays in our daily lives, with special attention to the future of water, water infrastructure and the economy, careers in the water profession, and source water protection. 

Knowing Your Water
In the United States, community water systems are required to send water quality reports to customers by July 1 of each year. The reports, which provide results of testing on approximately 90 contaminants and point out any violations of Safe Drinking Water Act standards, are often also posted online. Water quality reports also carry information on the source and treatment of a community’s tap water.

While customers of community water systems have their water tested every day and professionally treated for drinking, owners of private wells should take special steps to assure the safety of their water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises private well users to be aware of potential pollution threats and to have their water tested periodically by a certified laboratory.

Economics of Water Systems
Today individuals and communities demand a solid “return on investment” for each dollar spent, and investing in water systems provides just that. In fact, a 2008 study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed that for every dollar invested in public water and sewer infrastructure and services, approximately $8.97 is added to the national economy through news jobs in engineering, pipe and valve manufacturing, concrete and construction work and more.

With more than one million miles of water mains in North America – many of which are approaching the end of their useful lives — the cost of water service is likely to rise in the coming years. Deferring needed maintenance will result in higher costs in the future.

What You Can Do
While America’s water system will undergo continuous service and upgrades throughout its life, it is important to treat your current water system with care to preserve its integrity. Here are a few steps consumers can take to make sure that their water systems are as clean as possible:
• Don’t overuse pesticides or fertilizers as they can travel through runoff and soil and contaminate ground water.
• Dispose of used motor oil properly. One quart of motor oil can contaminate more than 250,000 gallons of water.
• Use detergents that are phosphate-free to save our lakes and streams.
• Join in a beach, stream, or wetlands cleanup project.
• Properly dispose of prescription medications and other products that are too often flushed into the wastewater system and out to the environment.

Facts About Your Water
Here are some facts that the EPA has provided to help bring the issue of drinking water into perspective. For a full list, please visit the EPA’s Water Trivia!
• Water covers 70.9% of the Earth’s surface, but only 3% of that is fresh water.
• Approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used in the United States per day.
• A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.
• At 1 drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons per year.
• If you drink your daily recommended 8 glasses of water per day from the tap, it will cost you about 50 cents per year. If you choose to drink it from water bottles, it can cost you up to $1,400 dollars.

Additional Resources
• The EPA provides different levels of information on drinking water for students of all ages.
• The Metropolitan Planning Council provides great information on water usage within the Chicagoland area.
• Follow the American Water Works Association on Facebook for updates!
• The AWWA provides numerous suggestions on how you can make Drinking Water Week memorable!
• Make sure to visit the AWWA’s YouTube page for videos on Drinking Water Week!