Wednesday, April 28, 2010

water, water everywhere...

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I've been thinking a lot about water recently. Oh, so many thoughts about water floating in my head. Enough that I couldn't really put them into one post without going into long-winded chapter format. Is there a limit on how long I can make a post? Is there a limit as to how long readers will tolerate ramblings about water?


I watched a documentary called "Blue Gold." Jude brought home a National Geographic Magazine about the world's water supply (They say that we only have about 1% of total water available for use. Wow!) Both strongly emphasized a global water crisis. I know. Hard to believe here in the Midwest, where I have a perpetual unwanted pond in my front yard, the fields are flooded, and it's a soggy march to the car.

It's hard to imagine not having clean drinking water. It's hard to imagine that water is scarce enough that you don't wash clothes. And walking miles to get to a water source, only to have very little water to bring home, because you didn't get up early enough?

I can collect water in a rain barrel, if I want. I can pay outrageous prices for bottled water, although, lest I become passe, I need to go buy myself some stainless steel reusable water bottles, and more Pur filters. I can take long showers, wash my hands, dishes, lots, and lots, and lots of clothes and diapers. I can water my plants and wash my car, if I want. I could water my lawn day and night (if it needed it) and let my kids play in the sprinklers. I can fill a little plastic swimming pool for my kids to lounge around in. So many things I can do with the water that flows unrestricted from my tap.

I know where my water comes from, and where it goes. Yes, we tracked down our waste water treatment facility. It ends up in a lagoon, but there is a creek not far, and I suspect that a lot the water ends up in the creek, then in the river(s), then out to the ocean (or the Gulf of Mexico, a watersheds would have it).

I was thinking about diapers (shocking, right?): using cloth diapers, there is an immediate and present impact on water, each time the diaper is washed. So it would seem that if you're in a place with water restrictions, that disposables would be the way to go, right? Only if you're looking for a short-term benefit. Disposables take water to manufacture, and once they finally get to the landfill, they continue to soak up water, and hold the water, in a supposedly impermeable landfill. At least washing the diapers uses and returns the water right where you are. Of course, we could just all be really conservative with water, use not diapers, and teach our kids/ourselves Elimination Communication. (I've actually concluded that I would go with flats and wool covers if water were an issue. I hear the diapers wash and rinse faster, and the covers don't need to be washed very often.)

Part of what gets to me when I contemplate water issues is that there really isn't a right solution, or good answer. I just sat for several minutes trying to come up with a sentence to adequately express the problem, and I keep coming up short. The water problem is so huge, that there would need to be a global overhaul to keep a domino effect from ruining lives. Consider: whatever you do upstream impacts the people downstream. The problem seems so far away that those of us with water think nothing of using it, but we can't reasonably ship water to those who are water-poor, because our local aquifers need that water returned in order for our ecological environment to survive.

Maybe I'll just quit trying to wrap my brain around it for now. It's late.

To make up for my lack of coherent thought on the issue, I'll offer up a post I made a few years ago about water conservation. Some of the tips aren't right anymore (apparently dishwashers are generally more efficient with water than hand washing), but the general principles apply. Even if you don't have water restrictions in your area, it doesn't hurt to be a good steward of your resources.

Water Conservation: October 29, 2007


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