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Could We Run Out of Water?

photo of girl drinkingWhen we turn on a faucet, we expect water to come out. When the weather warms up, we assume there’s enough water to wash our cars and keep our lawns green. We tend to take our water supply for granted here in the Tennessee Valley. And no wonder.

The Tennessee Valley get lots of rain—an average of 51 inches a year! (That’s more than double the rainfall in the southwestern United States.) But we use a lot of water, too. We need to pump water out of the river to use in our homes, to run our factories, to make electric power and to irrigate our farms.

But we also want plenty of water left in the river so the animals that live there can survive, so barges can float their heavy loads and so people can swim, boat, fish and otherwise enjoy themselves.

If it rains as much as it usually does in the Tennessee Valley, chances are there will be plenty of water for everyone. But in drought years, water shortages can occur. In fact, they’ve already occurred in a small number of areas.

More shortages are likely as the Valley’s population and economy grow. Some cities in states bordering the Tennessee Valley might be interested in pumping water out of the Tennessee River to meet the water needs of their growing populations.

TVA is working with Valley states to head off future water shortages by planning ahead and encouraging water conservation. Find out what’s happening in Tennessee.

Don’t waste water

You can do your part by using water wisely. Did you know that 69 percent of the water you use is flushed down the toilet or washed down the shower or bathtub drain?

Here are some things you can do to save water:

  • Ask your parents to use toilets that use as little water as possible.
  • Encourage your parents and teachers to fix leaky faucets and toilets right away—a dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water each day!
  • When you brush your teeth, don’t leave the water running.
  • In your yard, never leave the hose running except when absolutely necessary.
  • Ask your parents to use trickle, or “drip,” systems for watering yards and gardens. Over-watering not only wastes water but can also make more fertilizer ooze into groundwater.
  • When you help your parents wash the car, do it the “green” way. Hand-wash your car on the lawn with a bucket of soapy water, some rags and a hose. Just turning off the hose between rinsings can save up to 150 gallons.

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