Archived Story

Our opinion: Be mindful of resources

Published 10:47am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

As Americans, it’s easy to take common amenities and comforts for granted.

Multiple Herald employees frequent Austin’s YMCA, and it’s not uncommon to walk into the upstairs locker room — at least the men’s side — and find that children and teens left multiple showers running when they left. It’s also not uncommon to return from a workout to find these showers still running, meaning it’s conceivable they’re left on for hours until someone turns them off.

This is no fault of the YMCA or Y staff; in fact, it’s probably only a select group of young people who leave them on as juvenile rebellion or oversight. Yet it still presents a good time to stop and reflect. According to the, the average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute, so a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water. If the showers are left on for an hour, that’s 150 gallons of water.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, water usage has tripled across the globe in the last 50 years, and it called ensuring the supply and availability of water, “one of the most critical natural resource issues facing the United States and the world.”

During last year’s drought, some shallow wells in Minnesota and Iowa ran dry. That could continue to be a problem, as 36 states have planned for local, regional or statewide water shortages.

Living in Minnesota, we often forget that many people around the world live without clean drinking water — 1.1 billion according the World Water Council.

We are blessed with not having to worry about this in Minnesota — so blessed that the average American home uses more than 300 gallons each day.

While it’s unlikely any of the children leaving the showers on at the Y will read this editorial, the Y could someday consider showers that automatically turn off, especially as officials discuss a new recreation center with Vision 2020.

It’s good for everyone to at least be mindful of the resources being used each day. Many online resources, like, can help people roughly estimate how much water they use.

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