To take anything for granted, is in a real sense, to neglect it and that is how most of us treat water. – Robert Raikes, Water, Weather, and Prehistory
Living in Southern California, its sometimes difficult to really understand how desperate the water situation is in our state. Our lawns and parks are still green. We have the ocean which doesn’t decrease like the lakes, which give us a visual reminder of just how little rain we’ve gotten in the last several years. This summer, I got a glimpse of the drought as I drove down the 5 and saw the orchard trees being pulled up by backhoes and the water level decline of Shasta Lake. Less personal reminders, have been the reading of Folsom Lake where the shoreline continues to grow and it’s filled only to 32% capacity. As the water has retreated, they even discovered a mining town from the late 1800’s called Mormon Island due to the water reduction.
Honestly, I can feel pretty miniscule and unimportant in my attempts to conserve water. It feels somewhat easier to throw in the towel and think, why bother? in order that to drive a shiny, washed car rather than being possibly perceived as “less than” for driving around a horribly dirty car. The thing about dirty cars, where I grew up, everyone had them. You didn’t think twice about it one way or another. Here, most people’s are kept pretty clean and it’s the exception to let your car get too dirty. So, while I can change my habits, it feels a bit naive to believe that all ten million of us will suddenly come out of denial about just how sparse the water supply is and create a cultural norm of dirty cars. Sadly, its the farmers and the ranchers who take the biggest hit from our water ignorance and we don’t even feel the hit from that because our supermarkets just find other supplies from other countries or states.
No matter how much I want to live in denial and stop living with water sacrifices, I just can’t. It’s not in my character. Instead, I’d love to share with you some of the ways we are conserving water in our family so that you’ll also adapt more ways to conserve water. (And please share with me your suggestions.) These are not in any particular order AND to begin, I started with one or two ways. I’ve lived in Southern Cal for twenty years and have slowly been adopting these, which make them seem automatic rather than something I have to think about.
1. Throw unused water from your cups into your plants.
2. Use plastic water bottles only when absolutely necessary. Instead purchase a container you can refill and reuse for years. Making plastic takes water, not to mention the utter waste of plastic bottles in our landfills. It doesn’t matter the material can be reused. It only makes it “less bad” rather than “good” for the environment and sustainability.3. Turn off the shower while you wash your hair and body. Another suggestion would be to stop taking a daily shower. Shower every other day or do a quick three to five minute daily shower on most days. (I realize skipping may not feel like an option as long as we have these high temperatures.) If you are a bath person, take baths that are only 1/2 full. We’ve always done this in our family and my kids would never expect to have a tub-filled bath. Instilling water awareness in my kids is a high value to me, this will be an issue long after my lifetime.
4. Replace your lawn for drought tolerant vegetation.
5. Drink beer rather than water. (…just checking if anyone is really reading my list)
6. Fix leaking faucets and toilets. An estimated 14% of home water use was accounted for in water leaks.
7. Turn off the tap while brushing your teach. Fill the basin for washing or shaving.
8. Make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are full before running them. Not only will this save water, but it will help save energy as well!
9. Tune up your sprinklers readjustments (i.e. repair broken, clogged, or misaligned heads). Don’t water in the middle of a hot day. Watering when it’s cooler allows water to penetrate into the root zone where it can be helpful to the plant. A good rule-of-thumb is to not water between the hours of 9am and 7pm.
11. Forget washing your car. You’ll create super fun memories by running out to your car when it’s raining and wash it then. Guaranteed to make you and your neighbors smile.
Try to implement one or two of these suggestions. Don’t do them all at once or eventually, you’ll throw in the towel because it’s too difficult to start several habits at once. When you start with one or two, they become automatic and eventually become habits so that over time they will “just be what you do,” without effort or thought.
Again, please let me know if you have any water habits, you’ve started. May we encourage each other during these times of water scarcity.
Here is a great link for Southern California Residents — http://www.bewaterwise.com
Peace and Grace.