For my first Watershed Notes article, I felt inclined to talk about something that I am really passionate about. For those of you who know me – no, it is not about recycling or composting – it is about water conservation! The list of things that I am particularly passionate about is rather long, but conserving water is right at the top! So I wanted to do a quick run-through of some simple things that I do at home and some that I am just starting to do (and some that I don’t do) that help save water!
But first, why do we want to save water, you ask?
So there is this thing called climate change – maybe you have heard of it. Well, it is drastically affecting our freshwater supplies. Here are some facts and a direct quote for a quick rundown. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, climate change is changing how much water we get by precipitation, consistently reducing snowpack, and also increasing people’s need to use more water with record-setting hot temperatures – which now occur almost every year. “Even without the impacts of climate change, the United States’ water supply has begun to diminish. Much of our water supply comes from groundwater held in underground formations called aquifers. In some parts of the nation, increased demand for water has led to pumping groundwater from aquifers faster than they can be naturally refilled. Persistent droughts in some areas are accelerating this decline.” [www.epa.gov] I could go on and on with quotes and facts, but I think you get the picture. Which brings us to my main passion – how to save water around your home! Disclaimer . . . I am a plant person, so most of these tips are going to involve plants. If you are not a plant person, I suggest looking into greywater usage. Anyway, here we go:
When you go to take a shower and the water starts out cold, grab a bucket and collect the water until it’s warm enough for you get in. Then use the collected water for your plants.
When you are boiling potatoes, or any other vegetable, save the strained water, let it cool, and use it for your plants. Potatoes have potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, all of which are good for plants.
If you are finished with a glass of water and have a little bit left, don’t just dump it in the sink. Instead, dump it into a nearby plant. Here is a thought as well – there is a trash bin for garbage, why can’t there be trash bin for water? Think of a way that works for you to have a container of sorts to dump water into. You’ll be surprised just how much water you can accumulate in just a few short days!
Use rain barrels. Disconnect the downspouts on your home, redirect them to a rain barrel, and use that water in the summer to water what you need to.
When cooking pasta, save the water and, once it cools, water your plants with it! Plants love the starchy water (but not salty water).
Same goes for rinsing fruit to eat or cleaning out pet water bowls. Just dump that water into your water trash bin!
When rinsing rice to cook, save that murky white water! It is actually good for your hair! It promotes growth, helps fight dandruff, and can increase your hair volume.
There is so much we do on a daily basis that requires a lot of water! It just takes little steps here and there, and just a slight tweaking of your routine, for us to conserve it. It can have a big impact, and you will be surprised at just how much water you can start saving daily.
I hope this leaves you with an excited new viewpoint and possibly a fun new challenge for yourself! Thanks for reading. Until next time!
by Bethany O'Hagan, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy Land Specialist