MITZVAH MOMENTS - Wonderful Ways with with Water
And you thought last year was dry! We may be entering the worst drought in California history. After two dry years, Santa Rosa’s rainfall since July is only 42% of normal. January’s rainfall was just 0.61 inches––10% of normal. The depth of the Sierra snow pack (61% of normal) and its water content (76% of normal) will be even less if the unseasonably warm weather we’re having continues.
Rationing’s on the way. Although February is expected to somewhat wetter, it won’t bring the 12 inches of rain needed to bring totals up to normal. On February 2nd, the Sonoma County Water Agency projected water storage to hit new historical low levels and warned that a minimum of 30 to 50% mandatory rationing was likely within weeks. The daily water use per person in a single-family home averages just over 69 gallons, so we may need to reduce that to about 35 to 49 gallons. Switching to more efficient fixtures and regularly stopping leaks can reduce daily use per person to 45 gallons––without significant lifestyle changes. However, simple lifestyle changes can reduce our usage further. We all need to go on “drought watch” right now!
Toilet flushing uses 25-30% of a household’s water––5.8 billion gal/day in the U.S.
• A leaking toilet can use up to 200 gal/day of water. Put 2-3 drops of food coloring in the tank to check. If the water in the bowl changes color within 30 seconds, there’s a leak.
• Replace pre-1992 toilets with low-flush toilets (1.6 gal/flush instead of 3.5 or even 7 gal/flush). Better yet, new high-efficiency toilets (HETs) use 20% less water than low-flush toilets. Several water companies are offering rebates of $150 to make the switch; get information at http://www.scwa.ca.gov/water_conservation/ or call your local water company.
• If you aren’t able to replace your toilet, put a ½ gallon plastic bottle filled with water in the tank and save ½ gallon per flush.
• Don’t flush the toilet unnecessarily and don’t use it as a wastebasket for facial tissue, hair, and etc.
Other water wasters––
• A garbage disposal uses 4 gal/minute of water; to keep it from smelling, the water needs to run for 30-60 seconds after the food scraps are shredded. Try composting instead; go to http://www.recyclenow.org/r_composting_bins.html or call 707-565-3375 for some easy options. • A faucet leaking one drop a minute can waste 2700 gal/year of water. For information on repairs and water saving, go to http://www.h2ouse.net/action/index.cfm.
• Running the tap while brushing your teeth can use 10 gallons of water vs. ½ gallon if you wet the brush and rinse briefly.
• Washing hands or shaving under running water uses 4-19 gallons more water than filling the basin.
• Showering for less than 5 minutes can save 1,000 gal/month. Every extra minute uses 3-7 gallons of water.
• Only watering outside between midnight and 6 AM can save 300 gal/month.
• Not watering when it’s windy can save another 300 gal/month.
• Go to http://www.watersavinghero.com/conservation-tips.html for more water saving tips.
When the economy slows down, so should your speed. In a North Carolina study, economists found that when government revenues dry up, police write more speeding tickets––for every 1% drop in government revenue, the number of traffic tickets per capita the next year increased by 30%. So save yourself money, use less fossil fuel, and reduce global warming by driving slower.
PG&E projects lower heating bills this month. The slowing economy has reduced natural gas use by industry and businesses, so more is available. However, fossil fuel use ties in with global warming, climate change, and water shortages. So it’s still critical to reduce our consumption. PG&E is offering discounts for using less gas. Go to http://www.wintergassavings.com/ to see clever talking “appliance-grams,” with tips on saving natural gas, which you can also send to family and friends.
Here’s a sweet mitzvah for you, your health, and the planet. Eat more chocolate––make that Fair Trade chocolate. Dagoba® Organic Chocolate seeks sustainably grown cacao from producers that reinvest in communities and the environment. Go to www.dagobachocolate.com for more information. Find Dagoba® chocolate at Whole Foods and Pacific Markets. Part of the proceeds from each bar helps to fund tree-planting projects in Costa Rica.
© Copyright Tish Levee, 2009. All rights reserved.
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