When I was growing up my parents instilled within my sister, brother, and me an awareness of the precious gift of water. We used it wisely and never wasted any. For example, we were taught to turn the faucet off while we were brushing our teeth (not to leave it running while brushing) because all the water that was flowing down the drain was being wasted.
I still practice habits that would make a conservationist proud, including the not-leaving-the-water-running-while-brushing-my-teeth one. Unless I deposit solid waste in the toilet, I tend not to flush until it’s been used one or two more times (I’m saving about three or four gallons of water each time I don’t flush, and, according to people much wiser than I am, it’s OK not to flush every time).
I suppose that for people who receive a separate water bill, conserving the “universal solvent” becomes an economic issue that they do well to pay attention to. But here in our development, all those things are factored into our monthly rent, so it doesn’t really matter how much or how little we use.
The question then comes down to whether or not there’s such a thing as wasting water in the first place. The Law of the Conservation of Energy and the Law of the Conservation of Mass work hand-in-hand, which means that energy can sometimes be turned into mass and vice-versa. The overall result, however, is that, while the form is changed, it hasn’t been destroyed and nothing new has been created either. So with that as the guiding principle, we can say that water – while it may be possible to change its mass into energy – really can’t be wasted per se.
And then I think about the fact that there has always been the same amount of water on our planet. We can’t make water, nor can we destroy it. We can pollute it, certainly, but that’s just water with crap in it, like our oceans that are filling up with plastic, refuse, and chemicals. It’s still the same amount of water.
When a drought occurs, that’s just water moving out of an area and not being replaced. The water that would help alleviate the drought has gone somewhere else, possibly enough of it to cause flooding in a different location. The cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation is ongoing and using the same water over and over (it’s striking to think that all the water on the planet is made up of exactly the same number of molecules that have existed since the earth was born [since none have been created and none destroyed since then], which means that when we enjoy a glass of water, we could be consuming some of the same molecules that were in the water Jesus drank)!
The point is, technically, it’s not possible to “waste” water, as though the water we let down the drain will never be seen again. However, to make myself feel good, I’ll continue to brush my teeth with the water turned off.