In case you have forgotten that we live next to a desert, the recent lack of rainfall might jog your memory.
Water is a constant concern in our area, and there are many ways each of us can conserve the precious liquid.
We can use less water both inside and outside of our homes. We can change our habits, our appliances and even make changes in our yards to have a huge impact on water use.
When it is time to replace toilets, faucets, washing machines or dishwashers, you can drastically cut the amount of water you use by purchasing products certified by the Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense program.
Old toilets, from the early ‘90s or earlier, are real water hogs, routinely using 3.5 gallons of water each time the commode is flushed.
Efficient WaterSense toilets need less than 1.28 gallons of water per flush.
Similar water savings can be found in low-flow faucets, efficient dishwashers and washing machines.
Just by changing a few habits, you can put a dent in the amount of water you use. A short shower uses much less than half the amount of water needed for a full tub during a bath.
Turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth can save 200 gallons of water a year.
At our house, we have switched to many of these water-saving habits and are poised to take another step toward sustainable water use.
We are selecting containers for each faucet in our house to catch water that usually goes down the drain while waiting for the water to get hot.
The kitchen sink and bathtubs will have tall, pitchers or half-gallon jugs, while shallow sinks will need bowl-shaped vessels.
We can use the water for our household plants and our tabletop garden, as well as watering the compost heap.
Outdoor water usage makes up about 55 percent of household water use.
You can cut that figure dramatically by using a drip irrigation system, instead of a wasteful above-ground system. You can even take landscaping to a whole different level by replacing that thirsty lawn with appropriate local plants and xeric landscaping.
Just to clarify, water that goes down the drain unnecessarily isn’t really wasted, but it does go back through the water treatment process which uses lots of energy. Power plants draw more water from our country’s watersheds than any other single user.
Water is such a big deal in Mesa County that Mesa State College and the Mesa County Water Association are starting a new Water Center on the Mesa State’s campus “to help West Slope communities understand and respond to emerging water challenges,” according to the association.
The center will “serve as a catalyst for interdisciplinary and collaborative research, education and outreach.”
A broad range of organizations have already committed to involvement with the new Water Center. Learn more at http://www.mesacountywater.org.
With so much we can do as individuals to conserve water, there is no reason not to get started today.
As more and more of us become conscious of our water usage habits and make positive changes, the impact will grow exponentially.