Friday, October 15, 2010

Water, water, everywhere...

... but how soon until there aren't enough drops to drink?

Admit it: you take water for granted.

You never think about where you water comes from, unless the tap is running brown and rusty or tastes funny. And even then, you think more about the inconvenience than the source, purity, embodied energy, treatment, cost, transportation, waste, or disposal of the stuff. The most precious stuff on Earth besides air, and we treat it with a shrug and a Ho-hum.

What's wrong with this picture?

In a world where the majority of people (not to mention other animals and plants) have limited or unreliable access to clean drinking water, it's like a landscape painting hung upside-down. In a word, it's disturbing.

Fortunately, news media coverage about water-related issues is increasing, and the fog most people inhabit regarding this most precious-- and dwindling-- resource is beginning to dissipate. Educate yourself about water and water issues. You can start at the Blog Action Day website, where hundreds or thousands of bloggers are posting information and links about water issues.

As to direction actions you can take to save water (assuming you're someone, as described above, who has no present worries about where their water comes from):

- Turn off taps when not in use (e.g., when brushing teeth, washing dishes, washing the car, etc.)
- Install a low-flow showerhead (low-flow standard is now 1.5 gallons/minute)
- Install an on-off valve on your showerhead (most of the water I save in the shower I save this way)
- Wash dishes by hand, in cold water, in a small tub in the sink (I know the general wisdom is that dishwashers save water, but the manufacturers (and those duped by them) base that claim on a comparison against doing dishes by hand with the water running; so duh, of course the machine saves water!)
- Install a low-flow toilet (my apartment has an old 3-5 gallon model that is a poor flusher anyway; imagine what I could save if the landlord would split the cost of a new low-flow model with me!)
- Xeriscape your property, or at least get rid of grass in favor of hardy, water-sipping native plants
- Install a rain barrel (or two) (This thrifty option has been taking Columbus by storm lately; in fact, the city subsidized rain barrels for at least one test neighborhood, in order to measure the effect of this sort of water catchment on stormwater runoff-- so I understood, anyway)
- Catch your shower or tub warm-up water for use on houseplants and for pets or the toilet tank
- DON'T BUY BOTTLED WATER (The reasons are many, and include saving municipal sources from corporate profiteering and overdraft, reducing the use of plastic (i.e. petrochemical) bottles, reducing litter (the bottles again), and reducing pollution (transportation of bottled water is carbon-intensive).

That's for starters. I'm sure there are many more ideas out there for you to take hold of. Good luck on your journey to save our most wonderful and vital resource other than air!

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