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SUBMITTED by Susan Peterson Gateley (7-Feb-2011)

HOW To Help Our Water by Conserving It

Southern California when no Colorado River water is available
This fourth article in our HOW Helping Our Water series considers items from Sid's list (first published in my book Twinkle Toes and the Riddle of the Lake) with a nod to arid southern California where the author is now visiting. Item number 7 from Sid's list is Save Water.

So why should we who live near a freshwater sea worry about saving water? Unlike San Diego with annual rain falls of 8 inches a year, don't we have lots? Yes, but when we use it, it gets DIRTY. Using less water reduces water pollution and saves energy, too (see below). That also reduces water pollution. Since the dawn of time dilution has been the solution to pollution. But Earth now supports 7 billion people, and that “solution” just isn't working too good anymore.

Somehow, I have long found the logic of drinking water and then crapping in the same water supply a bit offensive if not downright deluded. Increasingly, others agree. This was made clear at the 2010 Annual World Toilet Summit, the biggest yet, held in Philadelphia last fall.(No, I'm not making this up as Dave Berry says. There has been a World Toilet Organization since 2001.)

It does seem likely, though, as several participants at this year's trade fair and technology showcase for plumbers noted, that the “hidebound” U.S. with its regionally abundant water supplies will once again lag far behind China, Europe and even the so called Third World when it comes to adopting more efficient toilet technology. We're still stuck with our mindset of disposing of human crap by treating it with chemicals to kill pathogens and then dumping it in our drinking water. However, groups like PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human) and the WTO (That's World Toilet Organization, now active in 58 countries, NOT the global money men) are trying hard to make friends and influence people on behalf of the waterless toilet.

These toilets have improved dramatically since the 1970's when they first came out. I personally know three people with composting toilets who are quite satisfied with them and can testify there was no more smell associated with their use than with a conventional set up. And they're simple to install too, no pricey septic system required! You can even get them for marine and RV use.

If you can't swallow the price tag for one aboard the boat or stomach the idea of a waterless toilet in your house, then at least spring for a low flush model if you haven't already got one or put a brick in the toilet tank of your old dinosaur.

While the the toilet and flushing same is one of the biggest household users of water, a lot also goes down the tub and shower drain. The Minnesota extension service website estimates 75% of the typical 260 gallons a day used by a household of 4 goes down bathroom drains or toilet thanks to lavish and frequent baths and showers. Admittedly, a leisurely long soak in the tub is a great stress reducer, but lately a number of articles have appeared in the media touting the health considerations of NOT bathing every day.

We've long been told that too much bathing can dry the skin causing itching and discomfort. But now we learn it also totally messes up the intricate balance of our skin's 'ecosystem' of bacteria. The 'good' bacteria present on our skin help us stay healthy so it's very much in our interest to not wash them all down the drain every day. Dr. Richard Gallo of San Diego's UCSD studies healing and wound repair. He has found our skin makes natural antibiotics that reduce skin infection, and that some of our skin bacteria actually fight pathogenic bacteria like the infamous Staph aureus of hospital fame.

Less frequent hot water baths save energy, too. Less electricity use directly impacts Lake Ontario, home to a whole fleet of power plants- all of which use water to cool their turbines, cooking a whole lot of plankton and adding still more chemicals to the lake in the process. Low flow shower heads and shallower baths in the tub help, too.

Along with numerous daily showers and toilet flushes, the other big area for household water savings is irrigation. As written about previously in the lawn care column, good soil with lots of organic content and appropriate grass plantings can help your lawn withstand dry spells. Mulch the flowers and vegetables, too. If you do water the lawn and garden, follow practices like morning irrigation and water deeply to encourage root growth. Sometimes, you can water those special dry areas of the lawn by hand. And by all means, start up an old fashioned rain barrel.



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1 Comment to "HOW - Helping Our Waters #4"

  1. susan p gateley Said,

    Thanks Pat for your comment. There are lots of ways to be 'creative' besides making books!!

    Posted on Mon Feb 14, 02:04:00 PM EST


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