Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kick the Water Habit! 12 Easy Steps to Help Conserve our Water

It's an odd sort of addiction. We don't ordinarily think that "using" it hurts anyone. But water is growing scarcer and we have to conserve, especially in our yards- which can account for 70% of home water usage in the West's driest regions. Here are 12 simple steps to help show you how to lessen your water footprint, save cash, and have a beautiful yard!

1. Admit the West has a problem. Arm yourself with helpful statistics:
-California is in its third year of drought.
-The Colorado River has run low 9 out of the last 10 years.
-By 2050, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is projected to be depleted by at least 25% because of climate change.
-Urban growth has reduced the groundwater feeding Arizona's San Pedro River by 30%. The river already runs dry in places.

2. Look for inspiration.
(Dry Las Vegas got support from its innovative water district.)

3. In times of weakness, remember what an addiction can do.
(Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the Colorado River - and in the U.S.- is now only 46% full, down about 110 feet since 2000.)

4. Cut back on your personal use.
(This is, on average, how much water you're using daily and how much rainfall your city receives annually.)
5. Readjust your habits so that they're healthy and safe.
(Think about "catching" and recycling water rather than just turning on the hose.)

6. Make every drop count.
(Overwatering and other careless habits waste 50% of landscape water.)

"Almost all the things we do with water require less water than we use to do them. I think improving efficiency is the most important tool in our arsenal. Let's do more with less water- grow more food, flush more toilets, wash more clothes- do more of everything with less" - Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, which works toward environmental protection, economic development, and social equity

7. Imagine a less-dependent future.
(There are models of 21st century backyards, that use the latest water-wise elements.)

8. Lay down roots that'll support your future.
(These superstar natives are tough and versatile, with low water needs and showy flowers.)

9. Use natural assets to your advantage.
(When designing your backyard, think of water as sacred. You follow its path, it shouldn't follow you.)

10. Take baby steps to reach your goal.
(You're on your way to kicking the water habit- these 5 tips will make your backyard use less water.)
-Put the right plant in the right place. (Add low-water-use plants. Group plants with similar plants with similar water needs, so nothing gets over or under watered.)
-Water efficiently. (Irrgate deeply and infrequently, then allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Water early in the morning, when the air is calm and temperatures are cool.)
-Shrink the lawn. (Across the West, lawns are the number-one consumer of residential water outdoors. Reducing their size, restricting them to spaces where you actually need them (like kids' play areas), or eliminating them altogether are the most effective ways to reduce your own outdoor water use.)
-Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. (Organic mulches (ground bark, wood chips, compost) save water by cooling the soil, reducing evaporation and encouraging healthy roots. They also help eliminate water-hungry weeds.)
-Check your sprinklers. (You can often tell if your system is not working efficiently by watching it run. Or look for signs: Brown spots mean your lawn isn't getting enough water; wet spots and runoff signal too much water.)

11. Sometimes, it's okay to take the easy way out. (These high-tech gadgets will give you an edge in saving water.)
-Smart Controllers, Drip Systems, High-Tech sprinklers, Rain Shutoffs

12. Help is a click away. Here are some helpful websites you can visit for more ideas.

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