Great question. I am not sure that there is a straightforward answer to this. I think it is in part ingrained in the American psyche, a certain entitlement, an expectation for a certain standard of living. The infrastructure in the U.S. also enables imprudent use of resources without an internalization of the true costs–we turn on the tap, water comes out–we do no readily see the consequences of our actions. Even if people are capable of rationalizing their way through and realize that this planet cannot support the American lifestyle, it takes someone that is moved by a completely different value system than the one currently upheld by the consumer culture to be willing to voluntarily live a less resource intensive lifestyle.
In general, we tend to use more than the rest of the world. We eat, bathe, and buy more than any other country and all of those activities require water. As well as using tons of water for our lawns and pools, we buy bottled drinking water on a massive scale. Acknowledging all of that, we are coming up with new technology to reduce our water use. Such examples would be low-flow faucets and toilets that most Americans have but hardly notice.
As lunafish ans frances said, I think this just has to do with what Americans are used to. Americans seem to use more of everything – be it water, electricity, etc. Not to rely on the old “wasteful American” cliche, but this is unfortunately rooted at least somewhat in truth. For whatever reason (and I am sure there are many theories out there on why this is) Americans tend to be less concerned with efficiency than others.
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