NATURAL SOUTH: Water conservation
Saving water is important, especially in the South. There are many things you can do to help not only the environment but your water bill as well. (Courtesy: The Southern Company)
We can start by thinking about a house.
The roof, like paved surfaces, is a hard surface and so water is gonna run off the roof. So what can you do about that? What you can do is catch that water when it comes off the roof. You can put a container at the end of a gutter. Or, if you don't have a gutter system like this, just put a -- watch where the rain comes off the roof and put a container there and then that water can be reused to water your lawn, water your plants, any kind of washing use you might have could be used with that fresh rainwater.
The next thing you would think about is the yard itself.
And probably the first principle there is to have as little hard surface as possible. You want as much rain to seep directly into the ground. So a lot of people like to pave sections of their yard. It would be better to use landscaping, groundcover in those sections, and have plants that are low-maintenance, that don't require a lot of water. Drought-resistant plants, native plants to Georgia and to the southeast, are usually the best choice.
The next thing and probably the last thing to talk about outside is the other hard surfaces, the sidewalks, entryways to the house, as well as driveways.
You don't need to hose those down. Think about instead sweeping those off. That’s a much better solution, again, from a water conservation perspective.
Amazingly, leaks are the cause of major water loss. And we’ve learned through a study that in Georgia, six to twenty-two billion gallons of water could be saved a year if all the leaks outside and inside the house were repaired. Just like outdoors, we have both water quality and quantity issues inside the house. The good news is that there are new products, just washing products, that are biodegradable and you'll see that on the label in the store. And these products are better both for your pipes, your own plumbing system, but also for the water quality. A lot of people put heavy grease down their pipes. And this is destructive to your own pipes. It’s gonna cause you plumbing costs. But, it also is destructive eventually to the water quality of the streams and rivers in your watershed. Garbage disposals are -- depend on water. So it’s best not to use the garbage disposal but to take the waste that you would put down that and compost that in your yard. And that -- actually composting and using that as a part of your mulch also cuts down on the amount of watering you have to do in the yard.
In the bathroom, one thing you can do very simply is to not keep the water running while you brush your teeth or shave or wash your face, to only turn the water on when you need it. There are also real innovations in bathroom fixtures in terms of water conservation. Always look for water conservation shower heads. And then also, you might think about taking shorter showers. I know that’s not something everybody is pleased about doing, but again it could save you water from your water bill as well as saving water from -- for the community. In a city of four million people, if every person saved five gallons of water a day, the savings over a year would be five and a half billion gallons. All the toilets now that go into new buildings are low-flush toilets. But the older toilets, you can put a plastic jug -- you need to put something heavy to weight it down; this has pebbles in it -- in the tank of the toilet. You have to be sure that it doesn’t get in the way of any of the flushing mechanisms. And because of the displacement of the water in the tank, this creates a lower flush toilet. You could add up in a day that five gallons of savings just by doing this simple fix without any new technology in your house.
We all live in a watershed. So it’s important to keep in mind that the watershed concept is not just something that’s outdoors, natural resource, but it’s important to every person that lives in the Ssouth, in Georgia, in the area of the Chattahoochee.