On Tuesday Aug. 19, AgriLife Extension conducted an extensive well owner workshop here in Robstown. The program covered everything a well owner would ever need to know about managing their private water system from the well to the septic system. Because well owners are solely responsible for their water system they should be critically aware of the need to conserve water. However, the availability of water, now and in the future, should be a concern for everyone. Or to quote Thomas Fuller, “We never know the Worth of Water, till the Well is dry.” And while we hope we never know the worth of water in this contexts; there are constantly new demands on our water supply, especially here in South Texas as our population continues to grow.
With drought, issues about water supplies and conservation become very relevant topics. Do you know how much water you consume for everyday tasks? Here are some real eye-opening statistics that water experts have developed that show “water footprints” for single individuals.
Here are some everyday water use facts:
- 1 bath uses 70 gallons, while a 5-minute shower uses 10-25 gallons
- 1 dripping faucet wastes 15 gallons per day
- The average home landscape uses over 1000 gallons monthly per person.
- 1 toilet flush can use from 1.6 to 5 gallons
- 1 uncovered swimming pool can evaporate at a rate of over 900 gallons a month.
If one takes another approach and looks at your virtual water use, the numbers can be alarming. For example, the water footprint for a pound of plastic is 24 gallons, so the average bottled water uses three to five times as much water as it contains. It takes 20 gallons of water to make one pint of beer. One gallon of gasoline requires on average 12.9 gallons of water, as a result every 15 gallon fill-up you make consumes over 190 gallons of water. So it is easy to see how important water is in our daily activities, and in times of drought, we all need to do our part and conserve.
Here are some ways that you can reduce your water footprint:
- Reduces landscape irrigation runtime by 2 minutes can save 80 gallons per day.
- Fixing a leaky toilet can save 30 gallons per day.
- If building a new home or changing the plumbing in your current one, install a gray water system, which allows you to reuse the water from your non-kitchen sinks, laundry machine, and dishwasher for watering plants and flushing toilets. Follow local and state gray water system regulations.
- Recycling one plastic bottle and one newspaper saves more than 5 gallons of water.
Conserving water also conserves other resources—energy and money. It costs money to pump water and make it available in our homes, for irrigation, and for business and industrial uses. By becoming more aware of your water use habits—both old and new—you can reduce water use, eliminate waste, and save energy and money. For more information about water conservation and ways that you can reduce your water footprint go to the website; http://www.40gallonchallenge.org/. While you are there complete the checklist of water-saving practices to make your commitment to reducing your water footprint by at least 40 gallons per day. The checklist includes both indoor and outdoor water-saving tips. To date over 3,300 Texans have taken the 40 Gallon Challenge and pledged to reduce their water use by over 607,500 gallons daily!
If water restrictions continue to increase, then only water high priority areas and allow other areas to go dormant or die. If you use the back yard more than the front, it would be the high priority area. If a beautiful landscape is important to you, then the front yard might be the priority. This approach will allow you to maintain a green lawn in important areas of the yard and still save water.
In South Texas, plants may frequently encounter drought stress. Rainfall is very seasonal and periodic drought will occur. When this drought finally breaks, we can rest assured the next one will not be far behind. If you have not incorporated any water conservation practices into your landscaping for this drought it might be wise to consider implementing a few practices for the future. For more information on water conservation in landscaping, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Nueces County Extension Office at 361-767-5223.
Individuals with disabilities, who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodation in order to participate in any of the mentioned activities, are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office eight days before all programs for assistance. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.