More On Water Woes, and Simple Solutions

In my town (and possibly yours too), we’ve got a water crisis. Sometimes our stormwater infrastructure is overloaded by flooding. Other times we’ve got drought. Interesting how everywhere I’ve lived, from deserts to rainy subtropical areas, the situation seems to be pretty much the same, alternating between these extremes.

If that’s not bad enough, our waterways here in Florida are polluted by toxic bacteria and algae which is killing the wildlife and even in some places making it difficult for humans to breathe.

Some of the best solutions to our big water woes are the simplest.

One, conservation. Quite simply, use less water and encourage others by your positive example. When friends and neighbors hear how low your water bill is, or see your pretty yard that requires no fuss because it’s all locally adapted, hardy, drought-tolerant plants, they will take notice.

Two, harvest rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is not just cisterns; it’s also doing things that help the soil hold onto water longer, and help trees and other plants sustain themselves through periods without rain so they don’t need constant daily watering. Examples include mulching (fallen leaves aren’t trash; they’re treasure!); adding compost to the soil; planting (or allowing to remain in place) coastal grasses and shrubs that help reduce runoff from a site; creating berms and swales to do the same. And of course, rainwater collection does include rainbarrels too.

Three, composting. Keep your kitchen scraps out of your trash, and compost them. If you currently use a garbage disposal, you can save a lot of water by composting instead of throwing food down the drain. Food scraps aren’t trash; they’re treasure! Even apartment-dwellers can compost; there are many compact units on the market designed for indoor use.

And, very important, urge your local government to implement all of the above on a city-wide or county-wide level. Many cities have composting programs already. New York City is one! Here’s a municipal compost bin at my cousin’s apartment complex.

Ask your city to institute low-mow or no-mow landscaping practices, such as retaining a buffer of wild vegetation along all waterfront areas, and transitioning to a more natural mix of vegetation in road medians.

My city is on the verge of requesting the state to have its allotment of water increased. And we’re about to embark on a fancy and expensive wastewater-treatment experiment. Unless we first do a lot more in the way of conservation, this is outrageous, morally bankrupt really. We could probably cut our usage almost in half without breaking a sweat! The simplest thing is always to cut back and use less. Costs nothing, and can even put quite a bit of money in our wallets, not to mention creating a kinder and more beautiful world.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Although the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” — Bill Mollison

Recommended Resource:
Visit this rainwater harvesting calculator to find out how much free fresh water you can collect from your roof! You input your roof’s square footage and the annual rainfall for your area, and get an instant answer. I was amazed to find I could potentially collect up to 2,500 gallons a year just from my little 10-foot-by-10-foot porch roof! Innovative Water Solutions is based in Austin, TX, a place I myself lived for many years, and a place that knows all about flooding and droughts!