Facts and Stats
Whether it is flowing from your faucet, or into the storm drain, all water matters. The following is a list of facts, statistics and animated videos about water. We encourage you to share this content on social media, newsletters, websites — any way that works for you — to raise awareness that keeping our water clean is important, all year round.
A Primer on Water Treatment
Indoor Water Quality
Anything we rinse down the sink or flush down the drain is filtered through a water treatment facility. However, that treatment does not always completely remove contaminants from water before it’s deposited back into our streams and rivers.
- Roughly 30 percent of people report flushing unused medication down the toilet. Learn how to properly dispose of prescription drugs»
- One ounce of household bleach requires 312,000 ounces of water to be safe for fish. That’s roughly 34 bathtubs full of water. (EPA)
- Even biodegradable soaps can pose problems for aquatic life — in order for one ounce of biodegradable detergent to be safe for fish, it needs to be diluted by almost 20,000 ounces of water.
- View recipes for safe cleaning alternatives on RecycleSpot.org»
General Water Quality
Rainwater that runs off roofs, streets and lawns pours into storm drains and is funneled straight into our streams and rivers without treatment. Along the way, this water collects contaminants in the form of lawn fertilizers, motor oil, pet waste and yard clippings, which can pollute our waterways and potentially make them unsafe for humans, pets and aquatic life.
- Approximately 40 percent of lakes in the U.S. are too polluted for fishing or swimming. – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Nonpoint Source Pollution: The Nation’s Largest Water Quality Problem.” Web Accessed April 25, 2015 Download Facebook art »
- There are 166 “dead zones” in the U.S. with oxygen levels in water are so low that fish cannot live. This is the result of nutrients from yard waste, fertilizer and pet waste that flow into those waters.
- Over 100,000 miles of rivers and streams are polluted with too much nitrogen and phosphorous. That distance could stretch around the earth 4 times.
- Swimming in polluted waters can make you sick. A study in Santa Monica Bay showed that people who swim in front of flowing storm drains are 50 percent more likely to develop certain symptoms than those who swim 400 yards from the same drain. Illnesses generally associated with swimming in water contaminated with urban runoff include earaches, sinus problems, diarrhea, fever and rashes.
- By the end of the century, annual damages from flooding in the U.S. are projected to increase by 30 percent. (EPA)
- Nutrient pollution is a widespread problem across the country. About 1 in 3 lakes (35 percent) have excess nitrogen and 2 out of 5 lakes (40 percent) have excess phosphorus. Too much of the nutrients nitrogen or phosphorus can contribute to algal blooms and low levels of oxygen which can cause harm to aquatic life.
- A 2010 report on nutrients in ground and surface water by the U.S. Geological Survey found that nitrates were too high in 64 percent of shallow monitoring wells in agricultural and urban areas.
- Recent estimates suggest that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in freshwaters costs the U.S. at least $2.2 billion annually, with the greatest losses attributed to diminished property values and recreational uses of water.
- More than $450 billion in food and fiber, manufactured goods, and tourism depends on clean water and healthy watersheds.
Outdoor Water Quality (Away from home)
Litter is not just unsightly. It gets washed into storm drains and into rivers and streams where it can harm fish and wildlife.
- Cigarette butts are the number-one source of litter in storm drains, which feed directly into streams and rivers.
- The presence of litter in a community decreases property values by a little over 7 percent.
- Litter cleanup costs the U.S. more than $11.5 billion each year.
- If you drove from KC to Denver, you would pass approximately 11,603,693 pieces of litter. Download Facebook art»
- 36 percent of business development officials say that litter impacts a decision to locate in a community.
Outdoor Water Quality (At home)
- Used oil from a single oil change can pollute up to one million gallons of freshwater. Download Facebook art»
- Americans improperly dump about 193 million gallons of used oil every year that can make its way into lakes and streams. That is roughly the equivalent of 17 Exxon Valdez oil spills.
- Grass clippings blown into storm drains leads to increased nutrients in lakes and streams, that can result in cyanotoxins. Almost half of lakes sampled in Missouri are at a moderate- to high-risk of developing these toxins which can kill fish, mammals and birds.
- Mowing your lawn one time could create enough grass clippings to produce 640 lbs of algae in our lakes, rivers and streams.
- One inch of rainfall in a 24-hour period can produce approximately 700 gallons of water runoff from the roof of a typical house.
- Because of impervious surfaces, like pavement and rooftops, a typical city block generates more than 5 times more water runoff than a woodland area of the same size.
- Water runoff from urban areas is the biggest source of water quality problems in estuaries and the third largest source of water quality problems in lakes.
- Chlorine from swimming pools can add chlorine to our lakes and rivers which is poisonous to fish, even at very low levels. Download Facebook art»
- A study in Burnsville, MN showed a 93 percent reduction in runoff volume after the installation of 17 rain gardens in a 5.3 acre neighborhood. (EPA)
- You can ‘grasscycle’ and reduce your mowing time by 30–40 percent by using a mulching lawn mower and leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Download Facebook art»
- Mowing grass to a height of 2–3 inches leaves more leaf surface and deeper roots which will choke out many weeds and minimize the need for chemical weed control.
Water Conservation (Indoors)
- The average American uses 64,240 gallons of water each year.
- A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day. Download Facebook art»
- A bathroom faucet generally runs at 2 gallons of water per minute. By turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving, a person can save more than 200 gallons of water per month.
- Washing the dishes with an open tap can use up to 20 gallons of water, but filling the sink or a bowl and closing the tap saves 10 of those gallons.
- Keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator saves time and water instead of running the tap until it gets cold. Download Facebook art»
- Not rinsing dishes prior to loading the dishwasher could save up to 10 gallons per load.
Water Conservation (Outdoors)
- A sprinkler leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. (EPA) Download Facebook art»
- The average American family uses 30 percent of its water outdoors. Download Facebook art»
- Up to 50 percent of the water used outdoors is lost to evaporation due to inefficient lawn watering. It’s usually not necessary to water grass every day. Instead, test your lawn by stepping on a patch of grass — if it springs back, it doesn’t need water. Download Facebook art»