Archive for Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Shouts and Murmurs: Water ideas continue to surface

August 21, 2002

Since writing two columns about water conservation last month, I've been deluged with comments from area residents telling ways they conserve, or recycle water.

I am impressed with their, or your, consciousness of the importance of water and with their, or your, efforts to conserve. It's something that until recently I didn't give much thought to. All my life, as long as water has come out of the faucet when I turned the handle, I've been happy.

But in recent weeks, with Tonganoxie on an outdoor-watering ban, the availability of water has taken on a new importance for me, and perhaps for some of you. I've been wondering why, until now, I never gave it much thought. Have I been living in a vacuum? Or did the 19 years that I lived in central Kansas where water is easily obtained from the generous High Plains Aquifer system, blind me from the fact that water is a fragile, and finite resource?

And, it's free. A friend at breakfast last week commented that when we buy water we don't pay for the water itself. We pay for the delivery of it.

Water isn't like beef, or corn or any manufactured product. Water isn't made by man it's just there. And, because it's just there by the grace of God, or by whatever force of nature in which one happens to believe, water is expendable.

There's no guarantee we will always have water to wash our cars or water our lawns. There's no guarantee there will always be the two or three gallons of drinking water washed down the drain with every flush of a toilet. But we hope there is a guarantee there will always be water to drink, and of course, water for agricultural use.

As young children my brothers and I would beg Mom to stop at Ray Hunter's A&W for a root beer. I remember us telling her: "It's only a nickel." And I remember her response: "Those nickels add up."

Though water's not as tasty as an ice-cold mug of root beer, there is a similarity those drops of water add up.

When Kenny Hardy collects rooftop water for his wife, Rita, to use on her flowerbeds, he's saving precious drops of water. When Ken Hurla comes up with all kinds of ways to save water, and recycles his "gray" water (water from sinks and bathtubs) to use on his trees, he's saving water. When Barb Cranor talks about dipping water from the washing machine's rinse cycle to use outside, and Shirley Martin says a $1 part can be purchased at local hardware stores that will connect a garden hose to a washing machine's drainpipe to run the water outside, you know people are really thinking about the importance of conserving water.

Chances are their water conservation won't amount to more than a few cents on a water bill. Their lives wouldn't change if that water were used only once. But nevertheless they're saving the water, drop by drop, bucket by bucket.

And so, next time, if you dare to let the water run in the bathroom sink while brushing your teeth, you might just picture the petite Barb Cranor lugging buckets of water from her basement washing machine up the stairs and to her yard to water her trees and shrubs.

And you might just hear the wisdom of a harried mother with a carload of young children clamoring for root beer: "Those nickels (or those drops) add up."

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