The Importance of Water Conservation

The drought-filled summer months that many cities and utility districts have experienced in 2014 have made it clear that high availability of water tends to be taken for granted by residents. We flip on a faucet and enjoy water any time we wish – and don’t think about what a wonderful luxury it really is to have clean abundant water always available at our fingertips. The truth is, only a little over 2% of the world’s water is fresh water and only 1% is accessible drinking water.

In wide-spread drought times, we become more aware that there are many areas of the US where water conservation is almost always a concern and not so taken for granted. These areas have much to teach the
rest of us!

Droughts in the U.S. typically occur in the west—states such as California, Nevada, and Oregon. According to the United States Drought Monitor there have been numerous droughts throughout 2014. While the most severe droughts have occurred in California, Oregon, and Nevada, parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho have all experienced severe droughts in recent months. However, California is the state with the most extreme droughts in the country, as the entire state is ranked between D3 (severe drought) to D4 (exceptional drought).

Some cities in high-drought areas have created local ordinances that restrict citizens from being wasteful with water. For instance, sprinklers may be permitted only at specific times, or they may even be outright banned. Limits on water use may be set, with steep penalties for exceeding them. Regardless of drought conditions in any particular area, there are many water conservation practices that people can follow on their own to help conserve water and ensure the availability of water for everyone. Many cities and special districts provide residents with water conservation tips throughout the year, hoping to make water conservation a habit rather than an exception.

Tips for Residents to Help With Water Conservation

  • Replace as much lawn grass as possible with water-efficient ground covers.
  • Purchase sprinklers that emit large drops of water close to the ground, and don’t water during the peak heat of the day. Smaller drops or mists will simply evaporate, especially during the heat of the day.
  • Don’t use excessive water on lawns and gardens. The excess water will simply evaporate.
  • Don’t water lawns and gardens on windy days. High winds will blow the water away from the intended target, and will make it evaporate as well.
  • Use a timer when watering to avoid overwatering or usage accidents.
  • Sweep patios, driveways, and sidewalks instead of using the hose.
  • Use gutter systems to collect rainwater from the roof, and direct it towards trees and plants.
  • After mowing your lawn, leave the cut grass on your lawn. It will cool the ground, and holds
    moisture as well.
  • Spread mulch around plants and trees as mulch retains water.
  • Turn off the water while washing your hair and brushing your teeth. This can save more than 150 gallons
    per month.
  • Install low-flow toilets and high-efficiency appliances (dishwashers, front-load washers, etc.).
  • Find and fix leaks. One small drip per minute is almost 53 gallons of water wasted per year! Tighten pipes and talk to your water company about how to check for hidden water leaks and leaking pipes.
  • Turn the water off before a vacation to prevent any bursting pipes or new drips while you’re away.

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