In honor of Blog Action Day, this blog today takes up the lament of the Ancient Mariner: "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink!"
Water may appear to be abundant and renewable, but the truth is that fresh, potable water is not infinitely renewable. It takes centuries to replenish underground sources of fresh water, and energy to restore and recycle used water.
In the public television series Our Changing Planet, experts warn, "Overuse and degradation of the world's groundwater is among the serious environmental challenges facing human populations in the coming decades."
But what can one person or one family do to make a difference? First, be aware of how much water your household uses. Here’s an easy-to-use tool to calculate your family’s daily water use. When we're not careful, the Peevie family uses about 345+ gallons a day. Yikes!
And second, be careful and intentional about your water usage. Here are eight simple steps you can take to conserve water at home:
1. Take shorter showers. A typical 10-minute shower uses about 50 gallons of water. Take a five-minute shower instead. Bonus Conservation Points: Install a low-flow shower head to save even more water.
2. Don't let the water run while you're brushing your teeth or washing your face. This could save one gallon every time. For my household, that's about 3,000 gallons in a year.
3. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
4. Don't let the water run when you're washing dishes in the sink. Fill two sinks, one for washing and one for rinsing.
5. Water your lawn and flowers in the early morning to minimize evaporation.
6. Don't over-water your lawn. Frequent, shallow watering reduces the ability of grass to survive during dry periods. "The best rule," according to the Environmental Protection Agency, "is to water only when the lawn begins to wilt from dryness - when the color dulls and footprints stay compressed for more than a few seconds."
7. For those of you who love the little fishes: when you drain your fish tank, use the water to nourish your plants. It contains excellent fertilizer!
8. Don't let cold water go to waste while waiting for hot water. Use containers to catch it for another use, such as watering plants or flushing the toilet.
Start taking steps to conserve water today, and set an example for your family and your community. Even small steps end up conserving thousands of gallons of water over time.