Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Water Conservation Update

(the results are in)
Toward the end of last winter Sue and I began thinking a lot harder about water conservation. Three years in a row of dry conditions, and the draining of one of our largest local reservoirs for an urgent seismic retrofit project, made the specter of drought very real. And indeed state-wide the situation is dire. Both of us had been practicing energy and water conservation in our home(s) since even before we had met. This was one of the common links that Sue and I have always shared; our deep concerns about environmental causes. Since being married and sharing a common household we have been evolving our techniques for how to live greener, and to practice conservation. But considering the bleak outlook for our local water situation this winter, we refused to behave like sheep and ignore the situation like most people seem to be doing. We decided that we needed to go way beyond our usual efforts. But we needed a way to help save water without spending a lot of money for a fancy new water system.

You can read about our solution in a post I did last March entitled Low Tech Grey Water. One of the links in that post doesn’t work anymore, but the information there is still good. I also did a follow up entitled Water Conservation Tips and Update. To be honest, using a system like this is not much fun. Its tedious carting water around in buckets like a couple of dusty pilgrims. But we do it out of passion.

Recently we got our first water bill that would reflect the full impact of our efforts, so we can now place a precise number on our efforts in order to make them tangible. No more speculation. And that number it 58%. Meaning a 58% savings in total water usage compared to the same time frame last year. Not too shabby considering that we really thought we were saving water before.

It would be easy to think that all this effort is useless, or backward, or that its undignified and demeaning. In our society we seem to have a this tendency to view ourselves as modern contemporary individuals who would not stoop to such things, or accept a different standard of living than we have been taught to believe is our birthright. After all we own a computer, a cell phone, and a car-nav, why should we lower ourselves to manually bail water? I completely disagree with these kinds of sentiments, and I think our results prove that everyone can in fact make a difference if they choose to.

So how much impact will our efforts have in the grand scheme of things? The truth is; probably very little. Unless a lot of people start getting serious, the impact will continue to be very small. And honestly, even if everybody did their level best to save water in their homes, it would never be enough to save agriculture from severe impact. It is after all, agri-business that is by far the largest consumer of our states water. They will need to learn how to save a lot more, and how to protect the environment at the same time. Perhaps agriculture as a whole is really just a big polluter, and needs to be cut back. But in any case, I still think its worth it. I plan to demonstrate with my lifestyle exactly what drives my passion. We need to rein in unfettered agriculture, practice conservation, and tear down O’Shaughnessy Dam, and Restore Hetch Hetchy to its natural state. That’s the ticket.

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