It appears that most of us take many things for granted. It is not necessarily because we are not thankful for them, but more likely it is because we have never experienced life without them. We often just don‚Äôt recognize how much we use things in our life.
One of these commodities is water. When we turn on the tap, we expect a rush of water to emerge. It is that simple. Have you ever stopped to think what it would be like to experience an empty faucet?
One of the most dreaded words in the English language, especially to farmers, is that of "drought." What constitutes a drought? Meteorologists measure a drought against several criteria. One of them is a drop in precipitation of 15 percent or greater over six months. Another benchmark is called the Palmer Drought Index, which the National Weather Service uses to calculate a drought. It is based on temperature, precipitation and amount of moisture found in the soil. The index ranges from ‚Äì6.0 to +6.0. With all factors considered, a measurement of -4.0 or less is considered an extreme drought, -3.0 to ‚Äì3.9 is considered a severe drought, and ‚Äì2.0 to ‚Äì2.9 qualify as a moderate drought.
Just like oxygen and sunlight, water is a precious natural resource. Experts tell us that during the last three decades the demand for water in the United States has exceeded our supply. The population increased by 52 percent, but the demand for water tripled. The government keeps a watchful eye on rainfall levels, reservoir levels, and stream flow to monitor the potential for water shortages.
It is estimated that the average U.S. citizen uses 110 gallons of water a day! How is this possible? Watering lawns, flushing toilets, showering and bathing, washing laundry and dishes, and cooking and drinking all take their toll on the nation‚Äôs water reserves. For instance, did you know-
- A five-minute shower uses 25-50 gallons (calculated at 5-10 gallons a minute)
- A typical full bathtub can hold 35 gallons of water
- The average toilet uses six to seven gallons of water per flush
- Running water continuously while brushing your teeth can use 2 gallons of water
- An automatic clothes washer uses 30-60 gallons of water for a full cycle
So how can we minimize usage and still go on with our daily lives? Following are some water-saving tips:
- Do not let water run from the faucet while you brush your teeth. Fill a glass halfway with water and use that to wet your brush and rinse your mouth.
- Limit showers to five minutes or less. While you wait for the water to get warm enough to use, fill a bucket with the colder water and use it to water plants.
- When taking a bath, only fill the tub halfway.
- Fill a one-gallon plastic container with water and put it in the toilet tank to displace one gallon of water (or use a brick in a zippered plastic bag).
- Plant lawn grass that can handle dry weather.
- Check faucets, hoses, and other water devices for leaks.
- Water your lawn and garden between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. This helps conserve moisture by minimizing sun exposure.
During emergencies, it is suggested that you recycle your used bathing/laundry water for flushing the toilet, watering your garden or mopping your floors. (Don‚Äôt use water with cleansers like bleach or other harmful cleansers to water plants). Use disposable plates, cups, and eating utensils.
You can probably think of many creative ways to conserve water on a daily basis. For more information, contact your local water works association or similar agency. The Internet also has several web sites with excellent ideas. Just type in your topic as ‚Äúwater conservation‚Äù or a similar phrase and you will be surprised at the information that is available.