Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Shouts and Murmurs: Those drops in the bucket add up

July 31, 2002

The outdoor watering ban hasn't hit our house. My husband and I live about six miles southeast of Tonganoxie. But my consciousness was raised last week when writing last week about how to conserve water. After all, water is a precious commodity none of us can live without it so why not try to cut back on our water usage at home, as well, I decided.

So this week has been marked by the five-gallon bucket beside the kitchen sink a bucket in which, rather than running water down the drain, I now put into the bucket to pour on a flower bed outside.

During the heat of last week the water, which totaled at least five gallons or more a day, kept the zinnias from wilting. Although it takes a little more time to recycle water, it's actually easier than dragging the hoses around the yard and it helps us use more wisely the limited water in our backyard well.

There is usually enough water in the well to water about a third of the flowers, trees and shrubs in our yard. After about 15 minutes the water turns brown and we know it's time to turn off the faucet.

I also heeded a K-State horticulturist's advice to reuse shower water. This is more time consuming, but worth the effort when five gallons of water can be reused to save the flowers. We haven't figured out how to recycle the washing machine water that's a little trickier I'm told, but it can be done.

In watering new trees planted this year, my husband took a K-State forester's advice, drilled a small hole in the bottom of five-gallon buckets, placed the buckets beside the new trees and filled them with water. The thirsty soil absorbed every drop.

At The Mirror's office, which does fall under the outdoor watering ban, Caroline put a bucket under the air conditioner's tube to collect condensation. By the next morning, we had a gallon of water, enough to make a difference in the parched flower bed beside our office. And, we haul in water from out of town when we can.

In talking to folks around who've found creative ways to obtain or conserve their water, I realize I've been a step behind.

There are those who use cisterns that collect rainwater for indoor and outdoor use, those who use well water and those whose water comes from springs. There are those who water gardens with water pumped from their ponds.

My own mother has long been one of the most conservative water users I've known flushing the toilet only when necessary and never ever letting the water run while brushing her teeth.

Most of us have been guilty of letting the water run until it's hot. My mother suggested heating a cup of water in the microwave instead. Depending on the sink's distance from the water heater, that could save gallons each day.

I'm sure there are lots of other Mirror readers who know of other ways to save water and we'd like to hear from them. Next week, The Mirror will spotlight a rural couple who have an ingenious home water-collection system that provides all their household and garden needs. Their setup makes sense. When you think about it, the question isn't why are we conserving water now but why haven't we been doing it all along?

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