River Beneath Your Town (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

laying_sewerI’ve been thinking about the huge amount of water required to take away our bodily wastes each day. There’s toilet use, showering, clothes washing, dish washing, and hand and face washing and shaving, to name most of the inside uses of water. Where does it all go? More importantly, where does it come from in the first place?

I used this handy calculator to calculate the bare minimum water consumption for a household of two people. I did not add any outside lawn watering, etc., because I wanted to see how much water would be flowing in the sewer system beneath our streets in town. Using some extremely conservative figures for water use, see the table below, I came up with a per-day average use of 86 gallons for the household. That’s VERY conservative.  Here are the estimates I used:

Water Calculator
Required Data Entry
Number Of People In Residence 2
Indoor Water Use
Bathroom Water Use
Daily Showers In The Residence 2
Average Shower Time In Minutes 6.5
Shower Head Flow Rate (3.8 std. 1.6 res.) 3.8
Total Weekly Baths In Residence 2
Toilet Water Use
Average Number Of Flushes Daily Per Person 4
Gallons Per Flush (5 std. 1.6 res.) 3
Faucet Water Use
Average Number Of Times Each Person Uses Faucet Daily 6
How Many Minutes Each Use .5
Dishwashing Water Use
How Many Times Are Dishes Washed By Hand Daily 1
How Many Minutes Each Use 10
How Many Dishwasher Loads Each Week 4
Gallons Per Dishwasher Load 15
Laundry Water Use
How Many Loads Of Laundry Each Week 4
How Many Gallons Each Load 55
Outdoor Water Use
Lawn Water Use
How Many Times Is The Lawn Watered Each Week 0
For How Many Minutes Each Time 0
How Many Minutes For Other Outdoor Use Each Week 0
Calculated Results
Bathroom 30
Lawn Watering 0
Toilets 12
Other Outdoor Uses 0
Faucets 9
Laundry 16
Dishwasher 4
Hand Washing Dishes 15
Your House DWA
Interior per capita gallons per day 86 135
Exterior per capita gallons per day 0 72
Total Per Capita Gallons Of Water Used
Per Day Per Month Per Year
Your Household 86 2614 31390
DWA Average 207 6210 75555
* Based on the Desert Water Agency 2002 public data.

At a very conservative estimate of 86 gallons per day water consumption, think about how that would add up for all the residents in your town. I would underestimate the number of households in San Angelo at 20,000, with probably a much higher number of persons per household average than two. So at 86 gallons per day times 20,000 households, that’s 1,720,000 gallons of water used PER DAY in San Angelo, Texas.

If you think about the supply, you would have to be bringing in 1,720,000 / 24 / 60 = 1,194.44, or about 1,195 gallons PER MINUTE to supply those very low consumption needs. With the addition of bodily wastes, food bits, etc., the sewers would be handling probably 2 percent MORE than that per minute. So there’s a cumulative river beneath your town — our “river” flowing at 1,219 gallons per minute.

Food, or, er . . . Water for Thought.

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