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Water restrictions don’t go far enough

by Jane Stebbins

County officials this week asked all the towns and special and metro districts to enact mandatory water restrictions. But they don’t go far enough.

They suggest people merely water their lawns between god-awful hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. They say people should only run dishwashers and washing machines when they’re full. Turn the faucet off while brushing teeth or shaving. Get a low-flow toilet. Install low-flow shower heads. Put a jar of sand in the toilet tank to displace water. Sweep, don’t hose off, walkways and decks.

Well, no kidding. Those suggestions are so basic, they should be part of everyday life, not something we do in times of water distress.

I am, by no means, the best water saver in the world. There are lots of things I’d like to do, like divert water from my roof to my garden, or gray water from my sink, dishwasher and washing machine to my lawn. We can’t afford gutters on our roof, yet, so until then, we catch as much rain water that falls from the roof as we can. It falls into two 55-gallon trash cans, from which we use to water the garden.

We also would like to install an instant hot-water heater so we don’t have to wait for water to get hot.

We’re trying. And I think others should come up with ways to work harder, too.

You want to save water?

Let the lawn go dry. It hurts, sure. And if you’re selling your house, it may not be the best selling point – unless the would-be buyer respects the fact you’re looking our for the good of your community. Isn’t that why they say they’re buying in your neighborhood in the first place? For the great sense of community? And more likely than not, the lawn will come back.

Don’t buy any more flowers this year. I love flowers as much as the next homeowner, but they need water. And this year, every gallon counts.

Here’s one.

As much as my co-workers complain, I have limited my showers from once every other day (I have dry skin, and hot water makes it worse) to once every three days. Granted, I need a baseball cap by the end of the second day, but that’s, what? Fifty gallons of water that I’ve saved?

On occasion, I like a long, hot bath. And these days, when I’m done, I take the gray water, bucket by bucket, out to my garden. I wouldn’t water the garden at all, except there’s little else I can do with used bath water. The water that goes down the drain has to be less than a quart.

When we boil eggs, potatoes or other veggies, we let the water cool down and use it to water houseplants.

And the family car. Does it really need to be washed? What do people gain by washing a car – better gas mileage? Wolf whistles at the college reunion? Why does it matter if a car is clean? If you have to do it, use a bucket of water to get it wet, another to soap it up and a third to rinse it off. Wash it on your lawn.

Don’t use water to defrost food. Use a dishpan to wash, then rinse, dishes. Any remaining germs aren’t going to kill you. Use a compost pile instead of your garbage disposal. Insulate your water pipes.

As we used to say in California, if it’s yellow, leave it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down. “Nuf said.

Evaluate the true cleanliness of your clothes before tossing them in the hamper. Do you sit at a desk all day? Does that really make the blouse dirty? Hang it up; wear it again next week. You will have forgotten how filthy it was.

Drink beer.

Got more ideas? Send them to me, and we’ll get them published.

If community leaders want to save water – to really save water – they should make these kind of rules mandatory. We are all in this together.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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