How Much Water Does A Water Leak Waste? (Because A Water Leak DOES Waste Water)

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Imagine Manhattan under 300 feet of water, not from a flood or rising sea level, but from the 2.1 trillion gallons of water lost from leaky pipes every year. That is nearly 6 billion gallons a day! The majority of leaks are a result of old infrastructure, pressure changes in the water mains, and small household leaks.

Infrastructure leaks
About 14-18% of water treated in the United States is wasted through aging and damaged infrastructure, as well as faulty meters. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the US a “D” grade for water infrastructure. Let’s take a look at a few cities around the US.


Household water waste
Average household leaks can add up to over 10,000 gallons of water a year, enough water to wash 270 loads of laundry. Nationally, household water waste totals over a trillion gallons - or the equivalent of 11 million households' yearly usage. The most common types of leaks at the household level are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaky showerheads. 10% of US homes waste over 90 gallons a day just from these small fixtures. Here are some quick facts:

  1. Faucets: 1 drip/second adds up to over 3,000 gallons a year (you can take 180 showers with that water!)
  2. Speaking of showers… a showerhead leaking at 10 drips/minute wastes over 500 gallons a year (that’s 60 loads of dishes)
  3. Old inefficient toilets can water up to 13,000 gallons a year
  4. Irrigation leaks just the size of a dime will waste nearly 6,300 gallons a month

While you can't fix your city's infrastructure, you can easily assess your building for potential leaks. 
Fixing easy leaks can save about 10% on your monthly water bill. Replacing that old toilet with a new efficient toilet could save you upwards of $2,400 over the toilet's lifetime. There are also a few videos at Home Water Works on detecting and fixing simple household leaks

Whether at the municipal or the household level, we waste a lot of water. Replacing the aging infrastructure on a national level seems a bit overwhelming, but there is a lot you can do to save water and money. Detecting and then fixing simple residential leaks requires little investment and will end up saving you a boatload of money on your water bills.

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