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Question: Why isn't our water free?

Kentucky enjoys abundant water resources. According to government figures, Kentucky receives an average of 40-50 inches of rainfall annually, and has almost 90,000 miles of rivers and streams. Knowing this information, you might ask, "Why isn't our drinking water free?"

Water in its natural state can be unsafe for human consumption. It may contain naturally occurring bacteria, inorganic material, and man-made contaminants such as pesticides and pollutants. As a result, your water utility has to treat the water before delivering it to your home. The process of turning nature's water into "finished" water and delivering it to your tap can be a costly one. For a better understanding of the costs associated with delivering safe water to your home, here is a look at the three main components to your water utility: source, treatment, and delivery.



The most vital component to your water utility is the source. Some utilities get their water supply from a surface water source such as lakes or rivers. Other utilities obtain water from groundwater sources, or aquifers, including underground rock, clay, sand and gravel materials that store this precious resource. Without proper caution, these water sources can become polluted.


To make water safe for drinking, it must be treated. The water utility must filter and disinfect the water to remove impurities. Water treatment protects consumers from diseases like typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera, and removes harmful chemicals such as nitrates, which can cause severe health problems. For your safety, Kentucky water utilities are required by state and federal governments to perform numerous tests on the water and meet stringent treatment requirements before it is made available to the public for consumption.


Once the water has been taken from the source and treated, it is ready to be sent to your home through the distribution system, the third component of your water utility. Once the water is treated, the treatment plant puts the water in storage tanks, where it is held until you are ready to use it. The water is delivered to your home through numerous pipes called water mains.

Many of these mains are large and extend for miles. Valves are used to control the water so it can be shut off at important points. Water meters measure the volume of water you use at home. Your water utility uses this reading to calculate your bill each month.

Information provided by the Public Service Commission.

Question: How can I conserve water?



1. Check every faucet in your home for leaks. Just a slow drip can waste 15 to 20 gallons a day. Fix it and you save almost 6,000 gallons a year.

2. Put a bit of food coloring in each toilet tank. Without flushing, watch for a few minutes to see if the color shows up in the bowl. It's not uncommon to lose up to 100 gallons a day from one of these otherwise invisible toilet leaks. And that's more than 30,000 gallons a year!

3. Don't shower too long or fill the tub too full. Five minutes for showering and about five inches in the tub is plenty.

4. Try to use automatic dish and clothes washing machines with full loads only. Even when the machines feature short cycles, you're being more efficient with your water when there are enough dirty things for a full load.

5. Most importantly, water your lawn and garden with good sense. Do it early or late, not in midday heat. Avoid windy days. See that water goes where it should, not on sidewalks or driveways. Stick a spade in the ground now and then to see that water is getting down deep. A good soaking encourages good root systems. But remember this: a single lawn sprinkler spraying five gallons per minute uses 50% more water in just one hour than a combination of ten toilet flushes, two 5 minute showers, two dishwasher loads and a full load of clothes. So be sensible. Check with local lawn/garden experts for best results.



Pipe Leaks

Leaky pipes in your basement, under your sink, and behind your washing machine or dishwasher can waste great amounts of water. They can also damage your home. To detect these unseen leaks, check your water meter, don't run any water for an hour, and re-check the meter again. If the meter has moved, you may have a leak.


It is unlawful and punishable by fine and/or imprisonment to tamper with your meter or otherwise attempt to prevent the accurate recording of water used.