Most of us take water for granted. When we turn on spigots, we expect that precious resource to simply flow. Let us take a moment and follow that flow back to the place where it all begins—Mother Nature.
Water is a non-renewable resource. We do not manufacture water in our basements or garages. Water comes from ancient groundwater aquifers located beneath the earth. Those natural holding tanks are filled by Mother Nature when she unleashes quenching rain upon our planet. This is where the taking for granted adage comes in. We expect Mother Nature to provide, and when she does or does not—only then do we take notice.
Many winters we witness homes bobbing down raging rivers and sliding off hillsides, while other parts of this planet are buried deep beneath record-breaking snowfalls. Other locations are experiencing the worst droughts in years. Notice the trickle down effect?
When there is too much or too little precipitation, crops suffer and often do not survive. In some countries, people die. Families are dislocated, yet we are at the total mercy of Mother Nature. Sure, we can try to outsmart her, by inventing all sorts of contraptions to suppress her damage, yet we, let me repeat, we are at Her mercy.
Modern Man can often intervene and draw water out of the groundwater reserves during droughts to save crops, but only if the reserve is there. When nature is raging, all we can do is stand back and hope that we can later recoup losses.
Yet the imbalance is apparent and populations must take notice daily and conserve water, especially where droughts are occurring more frequently. While the average American uses 100 gallons of water daily, French and German populations cut that consumption by half, while some tribal communities use fewer than 10 gallons. If you are one of the excessive consumers, below are a few conservation suggestions:
- Replace old water guzzling toilets with new, efficient ones. A leaking toilet can waste 200 gallons per day! New versions are inexpensive and often come with rebates.
- Repair or replace dripping faucets. Report water leaks to landlords or businesses and insist that they be repaired immediately.
- During dry spells, catch the cold-to-hot water from showers into a bucket and carry that water to the garden or use it to flush the toilet.
- When washing vegetables, collect the water in a basin and carry to the garden. Give a planter a drink!
- Turn off water while brushing your teeth, shaving, washing hands, and between lathering and rinsing while in the shower.
- DO NOT rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher-energy star models are designed to conserve water and clean dishes.
- Forget the garbage disposal-this uses energy and water, fills septic tanks quickly and creates additional sludge in municipal water treatment plants, which consumes additional water and energy.
- Why not compost instead? Over half of American garbage is compostable.
- Consider replacing any appliance over six years old. Both energy and water savings are significant.
- Half of outdoor water is wasted by run off. During hot spells or droughts, allow your lawn to go dormant. It may look ugly, yet it will recover when Mother Nature delivers in the fall. Notice my assumption!
- Consider replacing or reducing the size of your lawn. Both carbon emissions from mowers and water usage will be greatly reduced.
- Consider gardening using organic methods as chemical controls can be toxic to birds, affect water quality, and may reduce pollinators.
- Install rain barrels or cisterns on your property. Thousands of gallons of water run off rooftops even during brief showers.
- Consider gardening in raised beds. These preserve soil integrity and require much less water.
- When designing your landscape, use native plant material, as it requires significantly less water.
- Use plenty of mulch to conserve water, keep root systems cool, control weeds, and limit erosion.
- Consider reducing your consumption of meat. Nearly 1800 gallons of water is consumed to process one pound of beef.
- High water demand for corn/ethanol depletes water tables. Must we really consume so much corn?
- Support businesses who respect natural resources.
- Remember our wildlife. Refresh birdbaths and create rock puddles for butterflies.
- If you must water your gardens, please do so before the sun comes up using a hand-held water wand. Wet the ground, NOT the plant. Do not water in the evening, as this promotes fungal growth.
In conclusion, and this may anger many golfers out there: I cannot rationalize how golf resorts justify building in arid climates. This is irresponsible stewardship. I am not a golfer, and find walking or gardening a great form of exercise where sustainability reigns supreme.
Between water waste and climate change, Americans could face water shortages in 36 states within the next ten years. Not only do we need to be aware of our carbon footprint, we must respect water if we wish to survive on this planet. Comments?
If you do not believe me, check out the recent documentary, Home.