A young Nicaraguan searches for water in Los Chiles.

A young Nicaraguan searches for water in Los Chiles, one of many areas around the world hit by heavy drought, in May 2008.

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

You probably grew up taking some things for granted. The water coming out of your faucet is a good example. The developed world has water on demand. Just turn a knob and presto: running water. But this might not be the case for much longer. In the United States, some neighboring states are beginning to sue one another over access to shared water resources, and aging infrastructures are struggling under the ever growing demand for abundant, clean water.

When you reevaluate habits and practices you take for granted today, you teach yourself to conserve some resources and use others more wisely. One great way to start is by making your home a water-conscious zone. For starters, make sure your faucets and toilets aren't leaking. Some minor tinkering and a few dollars spent at your local home improvement store can mean the difference in several lost gallons of water each and every day.

Simply paying attention to how you use water can help you conserve this precious resource, too. For example, you can save water by shaving in the sink rather than the shower. And when you turn on your shower, place a 5-gallon bucket beneath the stream while you wait for the water to heat up, rather than simply allowing it to run down the drain. You can use this gray water in your garden.

Collecting rain in a rain barrel is another great project. These large barrels can be positioned beneath one of your home's downspouts to collect rainwater as it rolls off your roof. A spigot is usually attached to the barrel to accommodate a hose. Not only will your plants receive the benefit of captured rainwater, you won't spend as much money on watering your garden (or bend the law, if you're under an outdoor watering ban).