Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sustainability in Practice- Focus on Water

The school I love- Washington State University- is located in Pullman, Washington. For those of you that have not been to Pullman, it is a small town. In a count taken July 2009, the population was 27,619. This number, however, is highly seasonal. The university’s student population accounts for the vast majority of people and between the first week of May and the end of August, the population is reduced greatly as students return home for the summer.

One of the main reason’s the university was built in Pullman was the plentiful supply of water from the naturally occurring Grande Ronde Aquifer. This aquifer provides drinking water to 50,000 residents of Pullman, Washington and Moscow, Idaho as well as outlying areas of Whitman and Latah Counties. This aquifer, which is vital to the survival of many, is dropping an average of 1.5 feet per year. This may not seem like a lot, but a balanced aquifer will replenish naturally. The stress put on this aquifer, however, is too great to allow for recovery so we see the water levels dropping.

While I have used Pullman as an example of the draining effects a large population can have on a water supply, water conservation is a worldwide issue. 
There have speculations as to how long earths water supply will last. Some estimates predict by 2025, more than 8 billion people will suffer from water shortages. Claims like this are shocking and scary. If you take a minute to think of everything we need water for, it is a LOT.  As scientists and governments struggle to find a solution, there are some things you can do to reduce your water use!
  • ·         Don’t run the water when you brush your teeth to save around 25 gallons per month.
  • ·         Only run your washer when you have a full load of clothes.
  • ·         Water your plants and lawn early in the morning or late in the evening to prevent evaporation.
  • ·         Never pour water down the drain that can be used for other things such as watering plants.
  • ·         Reduce your shower time. Cutting shower time by just a few minutes each time can reduce water use by more than 150 gallons per month.
  • ·         Using a water bottle instead of a glass every time you get thirsty can reduce the number of glasses you have to wash.
  • ·         Use an efficient shower head. This can save up to 750 gallons per month.  

Implementing even one of these tips could make a dramatic difference in water use habits! It is everyone’s responsibility to be part of the change! 

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