Water Conservation, (We are long over due)
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink? It’s no surprise that after years of record droughts and historic heat waves that people would be thinking of ways to conserve water, but the truth is that water conservation is long overdue. Contrary to popular belief, the drought didn’t begin two years ago it actually has been coming for about the past 100 years. Water conservationists agree that the trend is due to the increased temperatures and population. The population in Austin Texas has increased over 600% since 1950 and the prediction for Austin’s growth at a whopping 150 new people moving into the area each day (according to real estate numbers) means that we are in a lot of trouble with our lack of available drinking water. This is an enormous increase in the use of our aquifers with no increase in rainfall. Not only are there more people drinking from the same sources of water, but there are commercial properties, Agriculture and of course lawns using 30% of our drinking water and for what???
Predicted models show that the annual rainfall could possibly decrease, temperatures will be higher and in the very near future (2025) should water demands remain the same, the Edwards/Trinity aquifers will be 100 feet below surface. Not only will wells be dry, but drinking water could be sparse. 70% of the Earths surface is covered by water, but only 2% is drinkable and 1% of that is trapped in glaciers. With the ever-growing population, (now at 7 billion+) we have to be vigilant in our efforts towards water conservation. Can we make a change for the better and protect our precious resources? You bet…but we have to start right now.
My favorite way to conserve water is by ripping out at least some of your yucky water hogging sod and replacing those areas with large mulched beds, hardscapes (patio/stone/gravel.etc), Xeriscape plants and low maintenance water features to encourage wildlife. Plant fruit trees instead of Oaks and create a place that is sustainable, water smart, creates a statement about you and is fun as well as functional to use. Mulching beds to the depth of 4-6 inches helps retain moisture, composting your lawn and perennials beds also allows water retention and fertilizing with liquid seaweed sustains your plants cellular structure while helping with water retention in your plants and sod.
There are many ways to conserve water. Some really easy ways are to take a shower instead of baths. The average bath uses 36 gallons where a low flow shower can be as low as 12 gallons per person. Keep a small bucket/pitcher in or near your shower to collect water you run while waiting for the shower to warm. Several gallons of water run down the drain while you wait for the right temperature. If your little ones have to take a bath use the least water you can and collect water after the bath in buckets to use outside. My husband and I would start a bucket parade after our little one bathed. You would be shocked by how many plants and trees you can water with tub water! (the little bit of residual soap won’t hurt a thing) Talk about dedication huh? I’ll bet you didn’t know that a wash machine uses about 40 gallons of water per load! Be sure to always wash a full load. Convert all of your toilets to low water toilets that use 1 gallon instead of 3 or more and conserve water by flushing only when necessary. There are also attachments you can easily install into your tank to change the flush valve and handle to flush up, for #1, and down for the rest 😉 reducing your use even further.
I keep a pitcher by my kitchen sink and keep all unused drinking water, I also place the pitcher under the running water when I wash my hands, rinse veggies, lettuce or fruit and use the water for houseplants or potted plants and trees. I also return cooler water, cooled pasta or cooking water, or any other non-potable water to the Earth.
A leaking sink can waste thousands of gallons a year, get it fixed or turn it off. A leaking hose bib is easily fixed with a 10 cent washer. Teach your children how precious water is and help them find ways of conserving as well. The little ones will impress you by how clever they are. Turning off the water while you shave, brush your teeth, wash your hands, and wash dishes are all valuable ways you can conserve.
Rain barrels will pay for themselves. An average 2000 sq ft roof collects as much as 30,000 gallons in a normal rain fall year. Once you install a few, you will be hooked!! If you have gutters you are ready to go, if not, they are worth the investment. Gutters increase your property value, and they prevent damage to your foundation by keeping the torrential down poor from your roof off of the ground. Rain barrels are a money-saving asset to you. Free water is free water and there is nothing better for your gardens than rain water. Irrigation or city water will help your plants survive, but they will not thrive.
I have a dear friend who runs the water continuously while washing pots and pans. I can actually hear the Earth drying up as this is happening in front of me. I just want to yell out “Hey, the Earth called and it’s running out of water”! That’s a little 3rd grade I suppose but I have become a sarcastically proclaimed “Water Warrior” (feel free to steal the title for your self!) and suffer from tremendous guilt when I see a missed opportunity to conserve. I call 311 when I see commercial water offenders and I think we need to stop being complacent about the need for change and become the change we want to see. If you see your neighbors landscape irrigation running off their yard and into the gutter, please tell them, they may not know. Not only could you save them a fine if the City of Austin does a drive by or another neighbor reports them, but you could save them from having no water to drink later 🙁
It wasn’t too long ago that my oldest flushed a bug down the toilet instead of escorting it out of the house. I came unglued!! It wasn’t bad enough that we have a standing policy that unless the bug is harmful, it is to be taken outside, not killed. (we have no deal with Fireants, they are goners outside and in!), but he wasted all that water for a bug!!! Every little drop of water saved by the hundreds of thousands and millions of people in our cities and states will ultimately make all the difference. So get your children involved, they are clever when it comes to coming up with their own ideas for conservation, take showers instead of baths, conserve all the unused water from cooking and drinking, water your yard only when necessary and to further respect and value our precious resources, you can get involved with a local organization like Clean water Action at www.cleanwater.org., you can teach a conservation clinic in at your child’s school or at your office and you too can save the planet one person at a time 😉 Everyone can make a difference, will you?
Now go get your conservation on!
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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