Article courtesy of Crow River Media | April 20, 2015 | Crow River Media | Shared as educational material
Everyone can act locally to protect the planet by taking simple steps to conserve water resources. The 45th anniversary of Earth Day, today, April 22, is a reminder of the many ways to make a difference.
“In the land of 10,000 lakes, we need to appreciate our great water resources and increase our concern for how we use water,” said Carmelita Nelson, Department of Natural Resources water conservation consultant. “Earth Day started because of dissatisfaction with how the environment was being treated. Although some aspects of our environment have improved since the 1970s, today we all need to focus energy on preserving water quality for future generations.”
As a first step, Nelson suggests that every family try to find ways to conserve water. Check home faucets, toilets, and pipes for leaks; even small drips can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Take shorter showers, turn off water while brushing teeth or shaving, and find ways to save water in the kitchen or laundry room.
“Toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water use,” Nelson said. Older toilets use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing them with new WaterSense labeled toilets will save water and reduce home water bills. This simpler, greener choice can save 4,000 gallons of water per person every year.
The second largest water user in most homes is the washing machine, with the average wash using 41 gallons per load. High efficiency, water-saving washing machines use nearly half that amount and have the added bonus of using 50 percent less energy per load. On store labels, the lower the water factor, the more efficient the washer is.
“As we Minnesotans start to get enthusiastic about spring, we should also think about ways to reduce water use outdoors this year,” added Nelson.
Water use peaks during the summer, putting increased demand on city water systems and individual wells. When picking out landscaping for a yard, select species that are drought-tolerant and well adapted to the soil. Consider reducing the amount of turf grass in some areas of the yard by planting butterfly or pollinator gardens, native prairie gardens, or rain gardens where appropriate. Consider putting up an easy and efficient rain barrel beneath a downspout.
“While it is not safe to be out on most lakes or rivers on April 22, get outside and splash in a puddle, walk along a shoreline or just enjoy a nice glass of water,” Nelson said. “We all need to become more aware of what a precious resource we have.”