Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No Time to Waste, No Water to Waste

by Corbyn Small
Staying on a similar theme from my post two weeks ago: water, desertification, drought. Sounds like I am about to dive into another blog about East Africa, when in fact my topic today is a little closer to home, San Diego. In case you don't follow the news here in San Diego, or the San Diego news hasn't reached your home elsewhere, the city has issued a Level Two Drought Alert to all of it's residents as of June 1, 2009. You may not have thought of it before but San Diego is a desert, it's chaparral climate is warm, dry, and it does not have a large source of water near it's major populations. Only 10-20 percent of the drinking water here in San Diego comes from rain water that falls and is saved in reservoirs, while the rest travels upwards of 1,000 miles through aqueducts from Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Ocean water desalinization plants are expensive making aqueducts that travel through countless metropolitan cities the most viable option for San Diego's water supply.
Here is what the level two alert means for us here in San Diego:
    * Homes with odd-numbered addresses can water: Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday
    * Homes with even-numbered addresses can water: Saturday, Monday & Wednesday
    * Apartments, Condos and Businesses can water: Monday, Wednesday & Friday
These regulations have been put in place to help remind people to limit and conserve their water usage during this time of drought. Other regulations have been removed in order to reuse household water for personal gardens. Starting today, the regulation keeping people from creating simple at-home systems to divert used water from bathtubs, showers, and washing machines into their gardens has been lifted. You are no longer required to have a permit to reuse this water that is called "grey water" for your backyard jungle. A single family could reuse 22,000 gallons of tap water a year by simply diverting rinse water from their washing machine. Collectively San Diegan's can significantly relieve the stress levels that are on our water supplies.
If you live here in San Diego, next time you take a shower, wash your car, or water your garden think about the fact that you are using an imported resource that local San Diegans wouldn't have unless our kind friends in Colorado and Utah shared their tasty mountain top snow melt. It is almost beyond my capacity to think about San Diego in a similar context as the countries where Plant With Purpose works with rural subsistence level farmers, but the truth is we need to be mindful of our resources and careful about how we go about preserving them.
Helpful Resources:
Here is a cool site that gives practical solutions to saving water and tells you how much you will save.  http://bit.ly/18hRLP
Details about reusing grey water.  http://bit.ly/O5KV8
A workshop to teach you all about setting your home up with grey water systems http://commgardens.meetup.com/58/calendar/11020515/

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