Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Creeping Disaster

Today's title comes straight from a NY Times post about the disaster of drought and permanent "aridification" or areas.

Droughts come and go, but population increase, redistribution of population, and other factors create increasing pressure on water supplies. 

Today most parts of the US and Europe can withstand droughts - even severe droughts.  Rationing occurs, our landscape plants may suffer and die, and we go without washing our cars.   But much deeper impacts are already being felt.

In the southwest USA, massive fissures open up due to depleted ground water supplies leading to ground settling (in some cases, damaging homes and other buildings).  Rivers that once flowed, supporting farming,  critical wildlife habitat and migration corridors, no longer flow.  Wildfires have become more massive due in part to water policy issues.  Droughts (and increased demand from growing populations) constantly cause food prices to move upward (recall the huge impact of the Russian drought on global wheat prices last year).  And this is just the start give the population stresses and natural weather cycles.

Save Water Today

Fortunately, there are many ways we can save water with no impact to our quality of life.  Unfortunately, these methods are largely ignored.  Like so often in this country, it seems clear that it will take an emergency before serious consideration of water policy occurs.

Today I hope you will take the bull by the horns and be proactive in addressing this issue.  I'm going to offer a number of simple steps that can reduce your water usage.  And I also hope that you will share this article with those that you know to help raise awareness.

What are some examples of ways water consumption can be reduced?  Slightly less than 70% of our water use is for agriculture, and largely overlooked flood irrigation is often much more efficient than traditional overhead watering.  At home, dual flush toilets, common in Europe, are almost non-existent in the USA.  Even "low-flow" showerheads can be further reduced to 1.5 GPM with minimal impact.  Choosing drought tolerant native landscape plants and using directed drip irrigation can save hundreds of gallons.  Rainwater can be harvested by connecting simple collection barrels to downspouts.
When you purchase your next washing machine, get a high efficiency model.  This could save a family of four 50 to even 100 gallons per month!  Make sure you run your dishwasher on the shortest setting possible - why run the "pots and pans" cycle when your dishes only had a few crumbs?

Home Power Saver has had a number of articles going in to more detail on saving water.  Please check them out:

Take the bull by the horns, and do your part today!