Friday, May 21, 2010

the source



The world is focused on oil these days and rightly so since we are quickly depleting the planet's resources. Conserving power, turning off lights and unplugging those little electricity thieves when they are not actually in use is admirable but how many of us are trying to conserve water? How many of us even think of clean water as being a finite resource?

Oil, gas, electricity...all very convenient to have but humans have lived long without them. Clean potable water though is another finite resource and it is one that we absolutely cannot live without...literally. 

Our lakes and rivers are polluted, we have dead zones in our oceans not to mention all the trash and garbage that floats around in them, so much water is being removed from our rivers by irrigation and damming that some of them don't even reach their end destination anymore, drying up before they reach the ocean. Our aquifers are shrinking and springs that have been eternal are disappearing. Wells are drying up. Even the rain is polluted at times.

And speaking of rain, it's illegal in some states to collect it for your own personal use because the ranchers and farmers think it all belongs to them, even if you have your own personal food garden.

In our current geo-political climate, the countries with the oil are the ones with the power. It won't be too long before the countries with fresh water will be the ones with the power. There has been many a battle waged over a water source throughout history and very likely many more will be fought in the future if we don't turn our attention to preserving our clean water sources and ending wastefulness.  People are already living without access to clean water and rationing is becoming more and more common.

Clean water is essential. We are so used to being able to turn on that faucet here in this country and having all the water we want that we give no thought to where it comes from. Hundreds of gallons a day are wasted on golf courses in the desert while drought stricken areas watch as their reservoirs shrink daily. Evaporative cooling systems spray water outside shops and outdoor seating areas of restaurants in arid parts of the country even when no one is there. Automatic sprinkler systems go on even in the rain.

The water we use is, of course, sent to sewage treatment facilities in cities and towns where it undergoes processes that remove the solids, the grit and dirt, the bacteria. It is finally chlorinated and then released into our rivers and oceans. If you live in the country or unincorporated areas likely you have a septic system which filters out the solids and sends the liquid through pipes to be dispersed underground. Some urban areas are starting to use the reclaimed water for irrigation and landscaping purposes which makes way more sense than releasing it unused into our waterways and oceans. Reusing the wastewater for non-potable applications saves our clean fresh water for more important uses...our consumption. However, most of our uses of water are not for actual consumption. We bathe ourselves, we wash our clothes, our dishes, we water our yards and gardens. A lot of it simply goes down the drain unused.

I've always tried to be conservative in my water use, turning it off while I brush my teeth, wash a sink full of dishes and then turn on the water to rinse them all at the same time using a low flow. Leaky faucets get fixed promptly and I hand water the garden and flower beds instead of using sprinklers. I never waste water on grass. Now that we have moved out of the city, I have been installing water collectors to catch the rainfall and I am laying soaker hoses in the gardens. Lately, I have been keeping a bucket in the kitchen to catch the water that runs while I am waiting for it to get hot to fill the sink, to catch the water I use when I wash my hands or rinse off the vegetables and then I use it to water the flower beds or pots.

Small things, simple things, easy things to do. But if everyone did those small things just think how much water we could save, conserve. It will make a crucial difference not too far in the future. 


23 comments:

Gail said...

So very true. I think that is why this is such a wonderful place with our springs. How do we prevent pollution from entering our system from another area?

Cynthia said...

Thanks for talking about water. We've had rain rain rain...and still, people are watering their lawns. It makes me crazy.

Linda in New Mexico said...

AMEN....living in the southwest, the importance of water has always been addressed but not heeded and so many smaller municipalities are rationing and trucking in water....we're in deep do do and no one wants to admit it. You are so on target.

Joanne said...

Every little bit counts, especially when it's multiplied by the thousands, or millions. It's so important to be aware, and conscious, of how we can and do live, and the impact of those ways.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ages ago, I mean decades, before my father died, he said "Water will be the biggest issue in the new millenium." Oh yeah.

SkippyMom said...

Good points all around. You are right and we do the ones you speak of, except for the waste water for the gardens/flowers.

What do you do with the water you want to save [running till it gets hot] grey water, etc. when you don't/can't have a garden and don't have flowers/plants.

It is good in theory for the most part, but we don't have room for a garden now and I couldn't keep outside flowers or house plants alive if my life depended on it.

Any thoughts on how else to use it?

John Kurman said...

This has been a concern of mine for some time. I read Cadillac Desert back in the 80s, and keep up to date on current conditions around the world. China, obviously, is of particular interest. They are in the process of building what may be the largest public works ever, in an attempt to channel water from the south up to the arid north. Interestingly, the weather patterns are changing so that even the south will be arid. For example, the Mekong river no longer reaches the Pacific. Living in Chicago, drinking Lake Michian water, I'm constantly aware of how fortunate I am. Some of the best drinking water around. The interesting thing is only the top four inches of Lake Michigan is replenished. All water below that is fossil water, left over from the glaciers. There is no word for how valuable it is.

Amy said...

Water is a huge topic in the West. I always refer back to Mark Twain's quote, "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."

Delwyn said...

Hi Ellen

Australians are very conscious of water and its limited supply. We have tough restrictions. My new home has - by law, two water supplies. Town water for drinking and grey water collected in huge tanks in the basement for washing and toilets. Some areas also drink the recycled water. We do irrigate with the grey water when it is plentiful.

Happy days

Rinkly Rimes said...

Such a lot of sense! Such a lot of good ideas! But, as usual, I'll be weak!

PurestGreen said...

I was shocked when I read the bit about not being allowed to collect rain water. That's insane. A lot more new homes could be built with composting toilets. It would save a lot of water.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Thanks for this. As a lover of nature and the environment, I am constantly horrified by the waste and pollution of our water supply. I wish everyone was as concerned and willing to do their part as you are.

Dianne said...

thank you!
the overall wastefulness of our society is so disheartening

The Bug said...

I always turn the water off when I'm soaping myself up & when I'm brushing my teeth - but I keep think how cool & efficient it would be if I had a foot pedal so I could turn the water on & off with that - I would use even LESS water then & be more efficient because I could keep using both hands to do whatever I'm doing.

JC said...

Ellen ~ I have given you the Versatile Blogger Award. Go see ...

Eternally Distracted said...

I live in one of the dryest places in the world and it amazes me how they waste water... Education is starting but so many people are totally ignorant to the need for being less wasteful.

Marguerite said...

Excellent post about a timely subject. We all need to conserve water and be mindful of waste.

Paul C said...

Yes, what a precious resource. I think of the King Midas myth. Most want gold and riches until you want to eat. Water is even more important. Our consumer ethic has wasted a lot of water.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick said...

Great wake-up call. We waste water horribly in this country.

Madame DeFarge said...

Very good piece indeed. Since we went on a water meter, I've been very aware of what we use waterwise. We do try to miminise it, but watch as our neighbours water their gardens with abandon.

Minka said...

A great post! I always feel guilty about water, at the same time I want everything to be clean. I think we are spoilt.

Minka said...
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