Water Woes: Where Does Our Water Go

With so much of the food we eat coming all the way from California and with California experiencing one of the most severe droughts on record, some of us are challenged to not be thinking about water. Some people wonder where our almonds and salad greens will come from if Californians can't grow it. Others wonder if other states or countries will face a drought in the next 10, 25, or 50 years. And others are completely in the now and are using water as if it's already scarce.

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We have a friend in Canada who has a 900-gallon reservoir for rain water in her backyard. She uses a bucket to empty the tub after a bath or shower and waters the garden with it—all natural cleaning products only. Rinse water from dishes is captured in a large pot. It also feeds the flowers. Flushing? Only if necessary! This is the labour intensive method of water conservation; now people using grey water systems.

Much of the water usage that drives scarcity isn't water usage that we have much control over. It's the water that industries use to bring us the goods, services, and food that we consume. Sure, we could all stand to consume less.

We could also have an impact with our day-to-day household consumption. We can rethink our fascination with year-round green lawns and ever-polished cars. But nobody really wants to shower less frequently. We can, however, find ways to speed up, use less, or re-use our shower water. Have you ever seen the shower drain that fills the toilet tank? Ingenious!

Do you want to learn how to conserve a bit more water? Here's the plan. Figure out a way to go without the free-flowing goodness from your faucet—temporarily! Swing to the opposite extreme simply to gain perspective about how much you actually use (and waste). You can either turn off the water main to your house or go camping with a limited supply. Whatever it is, see what it takes to stretch the amount you've saved in containers.

water bSomething else takes over. It's almost primal. It must be part of our DNA. But without even trying, our minds are suddenly trying to devise ways to secure water. As the water supply thins even more, we find ourselves identifying all possible natural sources around us. We might be starting to invent and construct ways to tap into or collect water and then store it. We also start to realize how little we need to brush our teeth, wash our dishes, or to clean our bodies.

Okay, try this. Take a half cup of water to the sink and brush your teeth. Don't turn on the tap once. Can you do it?

Finally, fill a medium to large bowl or pot with hot soapy water. If you have two kitchen sinks, put this in one and an empty bowl or pot in the other. Rinse the dish over the empty pot. If it's too sudsy, let the suds go down the drain, but capture the cleanest water—a few suds are fine if it's all natural soap. Simply see how much less water you can use in washing and save the water that would normally disappear down the drain. Water your plants with it.

Next, the quickest shower! Instead of 25 gallons in 10 minutes, how about 10 gallons in 4 minutes? Can you do it? If you can, how often do you think you could do that every week? We encourage you to time your shortest shower and tell us how you did on our Facebook page!

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