Saving water

The fires in southern California accent but unconsciously deflect from the huge water shortage in so many parts of the country. If you’ve seen news about the drought in Georgia, you’ll know there’s a lake (Lanier) that’s drying up and putting Atlanta at risk. (My father’s father’s mother’s people were displaced when the lake was created, so I’m seeing ancestral land for the first time.)

There are a lot of ideas about what’s the best way to save water — like saving oil and electricity or choosing the best organic food first — but some are trivial and others impractical or foolish. (Like switching to bottled water from tap.)

So let’s start here: what would you be willing to change first to save water?

8 Replies to “Saving water”

  1. We haven’t watered our lawn with fresh water since we’ve lived in the house. Instead, we’ve been parceling out whatever was generated from the dehumidifier.
    I’ve been turning off the shower while lathering up.
    Neither of us has washed either car in ages.
    I never leave the tap running while I brush my teeth.
    I do not run half-loads of laundry.
    I only do full loads in the dishwasher.

    Actually, all of that was pretty much true with the exception of the cars and the shower before the drought was even announced, but Roswell was ahead of the curve with watering restrictions months before the state got involved.

  2. we own and use a water efficient washing machine.
    I’ve never watered a lawn (watering makes the grass grow, and why would I want to mow it?)
    i bathe rather than shower (it uses less water than showering)

  3. Well I’m smack dab in the middle of the ATL water “crisis” and I have been very conscious of how I use water. I take quick showers, run the clothes washer & dishwasher when full, and usually on the short/economy cycle (both are already very energy efficient). I reuse a good deal of water (“grey water”) from boiling eggs, leftover dog water dish water, leftover water from bottled water left by guests etc. to water the house plants. I haven’t planted anything new on the deck and probably won’t do so now. Both toilets and showers, as well as all faucets are already “low flow” so I can’t do much to improve them.

    What bothers me is that we waste so much water on landscaping that isn’t really meant for this climate. I think plain old green grass is boring, and more trouble than it’s worth. More people should design their landscaping with water usage, upkeep costs, and native species in mind. Of course we could all just let the kudzu go-God knows nothing will stop it!

  4. According to this British site ( — which makes me think this is going to be a conservative estimate by US standards — a household of two might use from 55 to 136 cubic meters of water per year. That’s about 1210 to 3000 gallons per month.

    Hubby and I have “utilities included” so we don’t get a water bill — we also have no yard to water or car to wash — so I don’t know if our conservation efforts are effective.

  5. I was on our local water board for far far too long during our own ongoing drought, and found that in our neighborhood, a family of four in extreme conservation mode (little to no landscaping, brief showers with water saving head, infrequent but only full dishwashing loads and laundry loads, high use of gray water, and, most importantly, no leaks) used around 1000-1200 gallons per month though there is tremendous variation among households. Jim and I used about 700-800 gallons at our low point in water use.

  6. Funny you should ask. I’ve just been lamenting because I finally had to do some laundry and I’ve been trying not to. The parsonage has water efficient washing machines, and I use the dishwasher on efficiency mode, and only every 2-3 days.
    I am no longer washing my hair every day — more like every third day. I am taking very short showers and once a week take a long bath and exfoliate everything and shave my legs. Faucet off when brushing teeth. No more car washes. I stopped watering my garden long ago (now it’s fading due to the season, of course).

    I still feel like I use a ton of water. I think of the women I saw in Guatemala walking down the hill to Lake Atitlan, filling their water jugs then walking uphill with those heavy containers on their heads.

    I am having a dawning awareness of how my beloved beauty treatments go from my hair or face into the sink and down into the environment. Especially toxins like hair dye. The last time I got my hair colored I broke out into red welts on my face and immediately got a blister on the right side; it is still healing. Wow. Stressed planet, stressed bodies.

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