Whittling Water Worries

| By Courtney Paige, Editor-in-Chief 💦  🚰 💧  🌊  |

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

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

Gov. Brown’s water fund measure was one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future, Brown had 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. That was six years ago. Things have not gotten better. 

Good to Know Magazine Whittling Water Worries
Good to Know Magazine Whittling Water Worries  Graphic by designua

A controversial water project currently in use is Southern California’s desalination plant which turns 50 million gallons per day of Pacific Ocean saltwater into potable water, actual drinkable water. 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. What remains contentious is the sludge left behind after the desalination process. It’s currently being pumped back into the ocean at a disturbing rate. Not only does the waste emit a repugnant foul smell, the concentrated salt sludge kills miles of marine life. Every. Single. Day.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schwab via Huffington Post

Every California governor is faced with constant water challenges, tirelessly working to prevent another water shortage on a large scale. With the burden of continued drought and now wildfire seasons, our commitment to water conservation cannot wane, especially now. Water conservation is as imperative as ever. There are profound practices we can put into place as individuals in order to conserve. 

As California’s population grows, it’s gotten to the point where we use more resources than mother nature replenishes. It’s not even as if we don’t stop wasting water we’ll be at a catastrophic level, we’re HERE RIGHT NOW.  Our water resources are being sucked dry to the bone.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Rolff via Huffington Post

If you typically shy away from math you may actually be surprised how easy it is to discover your rainfall collection potential. You can find the formula equation at the end of this article. It’s worth flexing your brain muscles to solve the puzzle. Mapping out the measurements, researching the source of rainfall in your area, and solving the equation can actually be fun.

As a huge water harvesting fan, I find the entire process fascinating. Other countries such as Australia promote water harvesting in cities like Melbourne. Melbourne began collecting water due to an extended 10-year drought. Similar to California’s current situation.

Renting versus owning will determine how much control individuals have with implementing water conservation agencies or a water harvesting system. Even renters can find something to be inspired by after reviewing the Harvesting Rainwater website. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could recreate communities with solar rooftops and water collection systems everywhere?

Graphic courtesy of Harvesting Rainwater

The Harvesting Rainwater website gives 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 subsequent 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.

Saving a few thousand gallons of water per year is an astounding amount. With this huge collected surplus, count on there being plenty of water for watering plants, some laundry, cleaning and flushing toilets. Flushing a toilet per flush uses more water than any other in-home utility.

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 in its dry season, so now is a good time to plan. Starting now with Labor Day weekend 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 gander 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.

Happy conserving!