Home & Garden, Spirituality & Community

Whittling water worries

In 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on more than $1 billion in spending for water projects.

Hundreds of millions of those dollars are allocated for long-term projects associated with flood control, desalination, water recycling, and conservation.

Gov. Brown’s water fund measure is one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future, Brown said during a press conference in spring 2015.

However, State Water Resources Control Board authorities said Californians have fallen short of Brown’s goal of reducing water use by 20 percent.

One particular project currently in the water works is Southern California’s plan for desalination by turning 50 million gallons of the Pacific Ocean into potable water per day. The plant opened in December of 2015 as the first in the state to tap an ocean for drinking water. More than a dozen other plants in California are in the planning stages.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schwab via Huffington Post

Even though Governor Brown is working to prevent another water shortage on a large scale, there are profound practices we can put into place as individuals in order to conserve. The question you may ask yourself as you read this article is, “Why would I need to conserve if California is currently enjoying a water surplus?”

The answer is quite simple, with an exponentially growing population, if we use more than mother nature replenishes, we’ll be right back where we started – sucking our resources dry to the bone.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Rolff via Huffington Post

If you typically shy away from math you may actually be surprised at how easy it is to discover your rainfall collection potential. You can find the formula equation at the end of this blog post. I personally shy away from math and numbers, so I was astonished by how easy it is to solve the puzzle. Mapping out the measurements, researching the source of rainfall in your area, and solving the equation can actually be fun.

I’m a huge fan of water harvesting. The entire process is fascinating. I admire other countries such as Australia that promote water harvesting in cities like Melbourne that started collecting water out of a major need due to an extended 10-year drought.

If you rent, you may not have control over implementing a water harvesting system, though you may be inspired after reviewing the Harvesting Rainwater website. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could recreate communities with solar rooftops and water collection systems?

Graphic courtesy of Harvesting Rainwater

The Harvesting Rainwater website gave me insight into how the simplest implementations can affect the amount of water saved by redirecting its flow to where it’s needed most. The website shows how slow water percolation positively affects soil, foliage and subsequently conservation.

If I had a water harvesting system, I would have been able to collect over 5,000 gallons of water so far this year. How much could you collect in a year? Feel free to share your potential.

With the possibility of having a few thousand gallons of water per year, it’s an astounding amount of water to me. If I had this option, I would use my harvested water for watering plants, doing laundry, cleaning and bathroom use.

Limitations associated with harvesting water within your geographical area may apply. Attempting to harvest water in a Mediterranean climate, for instance, has its advantages and disadvantages. An advantage would be that they can use water harvested in the rainy season for the non-rainy seasons.

However, this means the water must go through long stretches of stagnation and would need to be filtered, or it may collect mosquitos and bugs. Another disadvantage is in most cases a Mediterranean climate may not produce enough water even during the rainy season to sustain the residents’ needs throughout the year.

Photo courtesy of Home Depot Niagara Conservation Shower head only $6.99

California is approaching its dry season, yet, this is a great time to begin conserving. Starting now with simple summer plans can include changing your shower head to a water efficient spout and installing a low-flow toilet. Not only will these two simple adjustments conserve water, but you will immediately save money on your water bill. And in most areas, your county offers a rebate with proof of conservation installation. 

If you’re interested in discovering your rainwater collection potential take a look at this quick and easy formula.

Determine your collection area in gallons of water:

* Rooftop Collection Area (sq. ft) x Rainfall (inches so far this year) / 12 (in/ft) = Cubic Feet of Water/Year

* Convert to gallons of water:

* Multiply your Cubic Feet of Water/ year (answer above) x 7.43 (gallons/cubic foot) = Total Gallons/Year.

* For example, a 500 sq. ft roof that gets 36 cubic feet in one total year has the potential to collect 1,500 Cubic Feet or 11,145 Gallons of water that year.

~by Courtney Paige

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