Many regions of the world are facing the challenges of managing this planet’s natural resources.
The state of Texas is certainly not immune to that task. Considering the growing population, economic development, and the inevitable occurrence of drought, the Lone Star State employs a system of evaluating and projecting its water needs which culminates in the State Water Plan.
According to the most recent plan, existing water supply is projected to decline 11 percent over the next 50 years, as demand will steadily increase. In the next big drought, one-third of the Texas population is projected to experience significant water shortages if management strategies are not implemented. Those strategies include new lakes, new wells, reuse and even desalination. One of the most important strategies, however, is simply water conservation. Eliminating leaks and using water more efficiently now constitutes 28 percent of the proposed strategies that are designed to meet our future water needs. While most of us aren’t going to be building any dams or “desal” plants anytime soon, we all can practice conservation, sending a positive ripple effect into the future.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Ol’ Ben Franklin may have been talking about fire mitigation back in 1735, but that notion still holds water to this day in many aspects of life. There are countless ways to save water, many of which we probably don’t think about often enough. It’s never too late to start, though, so here are some methods worth consideration as we get into the season of highest water consumption.
Indoors, the bathroom is a good place to start. A leaky commode can waste up to 73,000 gallons per year, so put some food coloring in the tank (if the leak isn’t obvious) and if it reaches the bowl in ten minutes or less, fix that leak! Often, replacing the stopper or other tank components will do the trick. Additionally, try putting a sealed jar or jug in the tank to use less water with each flush. Next, check that faucet. Not only is that drip-drip-drip sound annoying, it is also the sound of a rising water bill. Faucet aerators are a great way to reduce water use, as are high-efficiency shower heads. A good method to remember at any sink is on-and-off use. Whether you are brushing your teeth or scrubbing a pot in the kitchen, only run the water when you need it. Doing dishes and laundry are never-ending tasks, it seems, but make sure to run those appliances when you have a full load, that way the majority of the water is put to good use. It sounds simple, but every gallon saved makes a difference.
Outdoors, if you have any plants or animals to keep hydrated, consider catching rainfall for various uses around the house. Precipitation is a relatively clean, free source of water that is usually plentiful here in East Texas. When you’re washing your car, don’t let the hose run freely – use a nozzle and bucket to minimize the water usage. Instead of spraying off your porch or sidewalk, use a broom or leaf blower. When watering plants or irrigating larger areas, check the system for leaks and only use it as needed, preferably in the dawn/dusk hours to minimize evaporation. One common waste of irrigation water is when the spray reaches a paved surface. The last time I checked, concrete and asphalt will do just fine without being moisturized. Using mulch or rocks in your landscaping is a great way to control weeds and reduce water needs, and consider planting native and drought-tolerant species, which will survive with less upkeep on your part. If you use a water well, inspect it occasionally for leaks or equipment issues that could be developing. Remember, that ounce of prevention comes in many forms, you just have to look for it.
With some practice, water conservation can become second-nature. Every one of us carries the ability and responsibility to be a good steward of our natural resources, which we are so blessed to have. Only time will tell how successful we are in preparing for that next drought. Just look at each day, each time you turn the water on, as an opportunity and a conscious decision to conserve. For more information, check out the following: pcgcd.org, 40gallonchallenge.org, epa.gov/watersense, and takecareoftexas.org.
At the Panola County Groundwater Conservation District, we are here to help! Stop by 419 W. Sabine St. in Carthage or give us a call at (903) 690-0143.