Friday, January 4, 2013

With the dawn of the New Year, there are 2012 “wrap ups” of all kinds of things: the best movies, the craziest fads, and last but not least, the finalization of data collected throughout the year.  In the Great Lakes region, we’re seeing a lot of news about record low water levels in the lakes.  Lake Michigan and Huron had the lowest December levels on record (Detroit News 2012).  The other lakes weren’t too far from their all-time lows either.  There was also an article in the Duluth News Tribune on New Year’s Eve telling the story of Northland homeowners whose wells have run dry. 
It seems difficult to imagine water shortages with the world’s largest (by surface area) freshwater lake right outside our doors.  However, as the hottest year on record in the United States, 2012 gave the region a drought that even a deluge of rain couldn’t stop.  As we continue on into 2013, we can make the resolution to counteract the drought by conserving water.  Previous posts have divulged some tips about protecting water from pollution, but here are a few ideas for using less in your home.
1.       Fix leaks!  The first step to saving water is to fix leaks in faucets, toilets, appliances, etc.  Any water coming out that you’re not using is money straight down the drain.
2.       Don’t flush things that can be thrown away like Kleenex.  If you flush every single time you use a tissue, each tissue is taking around 5 gallons down with it.
3.       Only run appliances (washer, dishwasher) when they are full.  A dishwasher will use the same amount of water for 3 plates as for 30.
4.       Don’t run water continuously when you could fill the sink or a bowl instead.  For example, when you are rinsing fruit or vegetables, put them in a bowl of water and then dump the water out rather than running the faucet over them.
5.       Don’t run water continuously when you could turn it off.  The best example of this is when you are brushing your teeth.  In between rinses while you are doing the actual brushing, turn the faucet off. 
6.       Keep a pitcher or glass of water in the refrigerator or use ice cubes to cool drinks.  If you prefer colder drinking water, this will eliminate the water wasted by running the faucet while waiting for the water to get cool.
7.       Take shorter showers.  If you can, turn off the water while you lather your hair and incorporate your face washing into the shower.
8.       Rather than dumping water that has been sitting in a glass or bowl down the drain, water plants with it. 
9.       When you replace showerheads, faucets, and appliances, purchase water efficient models.  There are inexpensive low-flow showerheads and a variety of appliances with the Watersense label. 
10.   Capture rain from your roof and use it to water your lawn or garden with a rain barrel.  This reduces stormwater runoff and the amount of treated water you’re using.
There are many, many more tips for conserving and reusing water.  We need to be mindful of our water use even if we have plenty of water right now.  For more tips, please visit the links below:

Alliance for Water Efficiency

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

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