My understanding as a layman is that al-though one of the impacts of warmer oceans due to climate change is increased precipitation over land, it won’t be as predictable and consistent, so we need to include water conservation in any discussion of sustainability. Or think of it as water management, since we’ll need to be concerned about flooding just as much as about prolonged droughts.
At the local level, we need to be smart about conserving water. It’s a practice we need to implement in times of abundance, because we can’t be sure when the pendulum will swing the other way and we’ll endure periods of water shortage.
For homeowners, the biggest consumption of water is typically the irrigation of our lawns and landscaping. Even though Rita and I replaced our Kentucky Bluegrass lawn with Bella Bluegrass, which requires less mowing and watering, we still need to use our sprinklers, although not as much. We would have done better to install buffalo grass, which is not as verdant, but requires zero irrigation and mowing. (I can provide the address of a home I know in Golden that installed buffalo grass a couple decades ago.)
There are sprinkler systems which adjust the amount of watering that is done based on rainfall and ground moisture, but I haven’t investigated those devices, since I usually am home and adjust our watering according to the weather. For example, this spring I didn’t turn on our sprinkler system until June 1st because of our unusually wet May.
There are other residential strategies for saving water. I have learned to take showers in which I only run the water to get wet and to rinse off, without running the water while washing.
We also installed 1.2-gallon-per-flush toilets, which perform as well as the 1.6-gpf models. We have a sensor faucet on our kitchen sink which operates like those sensors you’re probably used to seeing in public restrooms. The faucet (by Moen) also allows us to turn the water on and off manually when needed.
We also installed a recirculation line on our water heater, which saves a lot of water by producing hot water more quickly in the kitchen and bathrooms. Think of all the water you run waiting for it to get hot. Not only are you wasting that water, but you paid to heat that water, only to have it cool off sitting in the pipes between your water heater and your sink. You’ll also save energy (i.e., money) by installing such a recirc line. Ask your plumber for an estimate.
High efficiency washing machines are efficient in their use of water, not just energy. Front loaders use less water than the older top loaders, but the new top-loading high efficiency machines, such as our LG unit (the kind with a glass top and no agitator), automatically sense how much water is needed and do an amazing job. We’re glad our front-loading high efficiency washing machine died and had to be replaced!
At the governmental level, I’m surprised that CDOT and other jurisdictions don’t install buffalo grass in the medians and on the shoulders of our highways. Doing so would not only conserve water but save a lot of money on mowing, which can also endanger workers on high-speed highways.
Recently I saw a report on the blue jean industry, which uses an immense amount of water not just to grow the cotton (1,800 gallons per pair of jeans) but even more water to dye them blue!
I expect to learn even more about water conservation and management at this Thursday’s (tonight’s) session on this topic at Golden Real Estate’s office., 17695 S. Golden Road, Golden. It starts at 5 p.m. and is scheduled to last only 1 hour. We still have seats available. Email me (see below) or just show up. The presenter is Ben Wade from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
If you can’t attend this Thursday’s session, a video of it will be archived by Saturday at www.SustainabilitySeries.info, where you can already find archived videos of the previous five sessions on other sustainability topics.
Please consider coming if you, too, have water conservation or management ideas to share, such as I have done in this column. I’m certainly looking forward to learning things I don’t already know.