08/11/2010 11:40 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Water Conservation: Get it While It's Hot

Unless you live in the Northwest, chances are you've spent the summer lamenting the heat and/or humidity that has engulfed a majority of the country. And it turns out we're not alone. According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, "the first half of 2010 breaks the thermometer." NOAA found that June was the fourth consecutive month that was the warmest on record for combined global land and surface temperatures (March, April, and May were also the warmest). In cities from Las Vegas to DC, July was the hottest month on record. Ever.

With increased heat comes increased reliance on a resource we often take for granted: water. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, more than 36 states expect water shortages by 2013, so getting involved now is critical to protecting this resource for generations.

Facing drought-like conditions, states and municipalities across the country are forced to implement regimented programs for water use. California residents, for example, can only legally water their lawns three times a week; a system some claim is causing massive surges in water use on designated watering days, and disrupting fragile infrastructure systems. These systems are taxed heavily in ordinarily dry months, so we certainly didn't need record temperatures to push our aging infrastructure to new extremes.

But we are focused on solutions, not problems. So what it is that I or you can do to conserve water? In addition to generally being mindful of our water use during these challenging times, there are simple steps we can all take to conserve this most critical resource every day. The Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program just completed its first "We're for Water" road show in coordination with traditionally peak water use season for most of the country. Partnering with American Water, the EPA took some simple water conservation tips to 16 communities from Los Angeles to New York, as part of their We're For Water national water efficiency education program.

During the tour, animated "Spokesgallon" Flo engaged consumers in water saving competitions, engaged elected officials, and worked with public and private water services providers across the country to create a dialogue about how we can all do our part. The program asks Americans to take a simple pledge to conserve water by agreeing to a three step program: Check. Twist and Replace: Check your toilet for leaks, Twist on an approved aerator to faucets, and Replace showerheads with newer models that use less water and energy.

These small steps now can assure a healthy and robust water supply in the future.