There are plenty of reasons for us to appreciate how precious our water is and to take practical steps each day to use less of it. For one thing, there are critical shortages of this life-sustaining resource in many parts of the world.
As The Economist pointed out in May 2010, “Water is indeed scarce in many places, and will grow scarcer [and] to carry on with present practices would indeed be to invite disaster. “ Part of the problem, the magazine says, is the huge growth in the world’s population the last few decades, to nearly 7 billion.
In addition, the area under irrigation has doubled, and the amount of water drawn for farming has tripled. Each night, nearly a billion people go to bed hungry, in part due to a lack of water to grow food.
Closer to home, a broad swath of the Sunbelt, including Alabama, finds itself in the clutches of a horrible drought. At the end of July, a record 12 percent of the continental United States was in a state of what the federal government calls “exceptional drought,” according to an Aug. 9 report by Bryan Walsh of Time magazine.
And things could get much worse, Walsh reports, with climate change further drying out the region and worsening the effects of rapid population growth. In addition, he says there are signs that the Southwest may be seeing the beginnings of one of the “mega-droughts” that have occurred here through the centuries. According to Walsh, “What the South is facing may be not just a drought but the first signs of a permanent dry, one to which we’ll need to adapt.”
In short, our use of water must become more efficient, and we can all help.
Oh, there’s another reason to save water—your bank balance. Have you looked at the size of your water and sewer bills lately, especially if you live in Jefferson County? I thought so.
So check out these practical tips to save water, save money and maybe even do something good for the earth—or at least for the other humans who inhabit it with you.
• Turn the water off while you brush your teeth.
• Use as little water as possible when taking a bath or shower.
• Fix leaky faucets and running toilets. • Don’t flush the toilet any more than necessary.
• Upgrade to water-efficient toilets. • Use efficient showerheads, dishwashers, and other gizmos.
• Only run your washing machine and dish washer when they’re full.
• Don’t waste dirty water. Use it to water your plants.
• Don’t pour toxic chemicals on the ground or down the drain; dispose of them at a hazardous waste drop-off center.
• Avoid using pesticides or herbicides on your yard and garden.
• If you water your lawn, do so in the early morning or evening to avoid having the water evaporate in the heat.
• Plant a rain garden to absorb and filter runoff.
• Use a barrel or other rainwater harvesting systems to collect rain and help water your plants.
If you go on line, you can find about a gazillion such tips, so you don’t have to stop here. For example, check out www.epa.gov/ watersense, where you can also find information about WaterSense-labeled appliances.