No, a 9-Year-Old Didn't Come Up with a Great New Water Conservation Plan

The feel-good environmental story of the day is actually a tale of woeful municipal stupidity in Reno, Nevada.

The viral climate story today is that a 9-year-old boy, Mason Perez, came up with an ingenious way to save water in his hometown of Reno, Nevada. After noticing that the sinks at a local baseball stadium spewed water fast enough to hurt his hands, Perez theorized that his desert community could conserve valuable resources by reducing unnecessary pressure in sinks and showers.

He tested his theory by using a half-gallon bucket and a stop watch, measuring how much water came out within a certain amount of time when the valves were wide open and when they were turned half off.

The tests were conducted three times each at his house, his grandmother's house and a friend's house, with a resulting savings in water use ranging from almost 4 percent to 23 percent.

Perez convinced the ballpark's manager to turn down his water pressure, and now the city's water authorities are considering a municipal pressure reduction as well. Sounds great, right? What a genius kid Perez is. There's just one problem: Reducing stream pressure in order to conserve water is actually a pretty well-known idea, and certainly not one "most adults had never thought of," as our friends at TreeHugger have written.

The city of Olympia, Washington, will cover 50 percent of the cost for citizens who save water by installing a "pressure reducing valve" in their homes. And Austin, Texas, will pay for pressure reducing valves up to $100. Even the federal government notes on the Environmental Protection Agency's website, "A reduction in pressure from 100 pounds per square inch to 50 psi at an outlet can result in a water flow reduction of about one-third" (and that's quoting a study from all the way back in 1984).

The point is that many people in positions of power have known for decades that lowering pressure will lower water usage. It's so obvious, in fact, that it's a bit shocking anyone atop a water utility, especially one in the Nevada desert, wouldn't know it. Perez is obviously a precocious kid and we're proud of him for thinking about conservation at such a young age. But the real story here isn't his great brain; it's the shocking negligence of water authorities in Reno.


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