After a long winter here in New England, we are grateful for any weather that doesn’t require a spacesuit and a shovel. But we know in many regions precipitation remains at a premium, and a terrible drought is only getting worse. That calls not only for the usual conservation measures, but some unusual ones as well.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 30 states started May with conditions ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. California alone has one year of surface supplies left before its reservoirs run dry. Mother Nature, it seems, is getting miserly with her spigot. And that means the rest of us must conserve all we can.
By now, the thirsty denizens of water-starved states know the basic water-saving drill. But shorter showers, brown lawns, and dirty cars aren’t the only tricks in the tank. Here are some water conservations steps you may not have thought about:
- Let your grass grow. Taller grass preserves more soil moisture and needs less water. Leave your clippings where they fall to act as mulch.
- Start saving whatever rainfall you get in a rain barrel connected to your gutters. Use it to water your garden and houseplants, and for outdoor cleaning purposes.
- Or plant near the house and drain your gutters straight into your garden.
- Leaky hoses are big water-wasters. So tape your hose connections at the tap and wherever extensions meet.
- Capture your grey water, the “waste water” from washing clothes, dishes, and the like, for your garden or lawn. (Think big buckets!) If you’re using non-toxic, biodegradable detergents and soaps, it’s fine to use.
- Wash pets and other dirty things on the lawn where waste water will enjoy a second life.
- Collect the water emitted by central and window air conditioners. Even in arid areas you’ll get up to five gallons per day.
- Recycle water. For example, save your cooking water in the fridge and reuse it a few more times or turn it into soup. It can also water plants. So can old water from pet bowls, vase water, water bottles and more.
- Wash produce in a bowl of water not under the tap. Then recycle that water!
- Put your tableware in storage leaving out just one glass, mug, bowl, and plate for each family member. This will cut down on unnecessary dishwashing.
- Stick a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so kids and others can pour a cold glass without running the faucet first.
- Ration your laundering. Items like towels, pants, sweatshirts, sweaters, etc. don’t need washing after every use.
- Stash a bucket by your bathtub and save what runs while you wait for hot water.
- In the shower, turn off the water while you wash your hair or shave.
- Stick a sealed half-gallon container of water in each toilet tank to displace some of the water inside and flush with less.
These water strategies may seem like a drop in the bucket, but remember: when no drops fall from the sky every drop you save is worth its weight in liquid gold.