Residents in the southeast are struggling with unprecedented drought and water shortages. Normally those of us in this part of the US have lots of rain and more worries about flooding than drought. The rain deficits that have been the norm for the past couple of years have dried up wells, killed trees, lawns and landscaping, wiped out agricultural crops and changed everything for residents of this usually verdant area. You might have noticed your grocery bill is higher because of it, too.
A certain amount of conflict has existed between the large cities and more agriculturally oriented communities down river from densely populated north Georgia and Alabama for some years. But now the conflict is getting hotter because of extreme drought. Some even characterize it as a “water war”. Many Alabama and Georgia communities are concerned about running out of water completely.
Water resources can no longer be taken for granted. A house without water is not livable or marketable, after all. Even before the current water shortages Atlanta’s creeks and rivers had so many lawn and garden chemicals in them that if your pet took just a few sips of creek water it wouldn’t just make him sick, it could kill him! These chemicals make all those water-hogging golf courses and lawns look a lot less picturesque than they would like us to think. The chemical runoff from golf courses and lawns is amazingly toxic for humans, too.
A company in Belgium now owns Carolina Water in western North Carolina. They doubled NC residents’ water bills in the past few years. They own and operate many private water services in the US. Local owners did not notify any customers before they sold the water rights to an overseas company, a practice we believe should be illegal. After all, nothing is of more strategic importance than water. The public service commission rolled over again and again, giving them whatever they want for very poor service and water with lead in it.
Water resources are of so much importance that we have been taking steps to conserve water in our home. We also filter out pollutants the water service misses the best we can. Here are some suggestions you can implement to manage your homes water usage.
1. Try going to a landscape that requires fewer chemicals and less watering. We have a clear corridor around our house for fire safety. There are two small areas of lawn, berries in raised beds that blend into the hill, flowers and herbs in pots, and the rest is given to natural landscaping that grows well in our area without the need for chemicals, pesticides, a lawn tractor or watering.
2. Let your congressmen and state representatives know ownership of water in the US should be ours by law, with no foreign ownership possible.
3. Capture gray water from tubs and showers. This is possible, especially for upper floor baths with a storage tank and a few plumbing changes.
4. Capture and store rain from your roof in a cistern, barrels or a storage tank. This water can be used to flush toilets to regular drains, to wash cars, in drip irrigation for your landscape or for water features.
5. Instead of draining air conditioners and dehumidifiers to a drain, catch the water for drip irrigation or potted plants. Treat the water with a little bleach to kill germs. The plants won’t mind if it’s not too strong.
6. Make sure your plumbing is in good repair. A toilet that runs between flushes can cost you serious money in water bills. We had a toilet that was running imperceptibly that raised our bill one month ten fold. Wow! It would have been cheaper to buy a new toilet. So keep a close watch on usage. Read your own meter a couple of times a month. No plumbing should be leaking. Appliances like toilets, dishwashers and clothes washers come in versions that use less water. Better versions of these necessities could pay for themselves rather quickly.
7. Save water by taking shorter showers, turning off faucets while brushing teeth or shaving, and by not using any more water than it takes to do the myriad of tasks we all do each day.
Water is one of those things we have to have to sustain life. We have to have it to grow food and to live. It’s VERY IMPORTANT for all of us. Be sure everyone in your home treats it like the most important thing there is besides love for sustaining life.