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Six ways to save water and money at the same time
Chattahoochee Riverkeeper tells residents how to make every drop count in their home and life
0203WATER-FAUCET

Despite water covering 71 percent of the earth’s surface, one billion people have to search for water to survive, according to a specialist with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

“Fresh water is a limited resource,” said Dale Caldwell, a headwaters watershed protection specialist with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

But each day, residents all over the world knowingly and unknowingly waste the precious commodity. Therefore, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is taking steps to educate the public about easy, simple ways to conserve water.

Several methods to save water will be explained during the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Lunch-n-Learn session from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System. The session titled, “Why can’t I water my lawn,” will discuss not only the conservation measures but the state’s drought conditions and the water wars between Georgia and Florida.

“They will learn current issues we are facing locally and in the Chattahoochee River Basin,” Caldwell said. “And it will be good to understand why Florida is suing us.”

Caldwell will conduct the Feb. 9 session at the library at 127 Main St. SW in Gainesville. He said he will also explain how Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is helping with conservation efforts and what Hall County residents can do, too.

In fact, Caldwell shared six simple steps to conserve water.

1. BE AWARE OF THE WATER ISSUES IN YOUR AREA

 “We are in a region that does not have the same problems that rest of the country and planet has,” Caldwell said, pointing to the extreme droughts in California. “But the direction we are going, we could be in those same positions. So, we have to be mindful how we use and conserve water.”

Some of the water issues residents need to be aware of are the amount of water consumed and the ways in which we consume them.

“When you get down to a drought, especially if it becomes crisis, you ask ‘Do we need to pour it on our lawn?’” Caldwell said.

2. PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE WETLANDS AND FLOODPLAINS

Caldwell explained by building or developing the floodplains, it decreases the natural area for water to flow and seep into the ground and causes flooding and eventually stream erosion.

“Floodplains are the overflow areas,” he said. “When you develop the overflow with impervious surfaces — which is where water can’t penetrate and soak into the ground — there is nowhere for water to go ... Then it floods infrastructure.”

The concrete surfaces also channel the water at a higher speed into streams and rivers, causing erosion.

By preserving floodplains, a natural buffer exists between the river and developed area such as homes and businesses.

3. DECREASE ENERGY AT HOME AND WORK

 “By saving energy, we save water,” Caldwell said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states a typical household uses 12,800 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. Water is used to cool thermoelectric power plants, and it takes one gallon of water to generate 1 kilowatt hour of energy.

Therefore, the less energy used at home, the more water is saved, Caldwell said.

“And that can be as simple as turning off lights in (when you leave) a room,” he said. “Or turning off the TV when you are not watching.”

4. FIND AND REPAIR LEAKS AT HOME

 “We lose a lot of water to leaks,” Caldwell said, pointing to data compiled by the EPA. “We could save 73,000 gallons of water per toilet each year. And that’s not updating them. I’m speaking of leaks.”

In simpler terms, 10,000 gallons of wasted water equals 270 loads of laundry, according to the EPA’s website regarding water sense (http://www3.epa.gov/watersense). In fact, minor water leaks account for 1 trillion gallons of wasted water each year. That equals the annual household water use of 11 million homes.

For steps on how to find and fix leaks, visit http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/our_water/howto.html.

5. LIMIT WATER USE IN HOME AND OFFICE

Caldwell said decreasing the amount of water used at home is as simple as turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth or lather up to wash your hands.

Other tips from the EPA include using the dishwasher for full loads, or using the appropriate level of water for the clothes washing machine.

“Those are small things, but they cumulatively go a long way,” Caldwell said, indicating the water savings add up to financial savings as well.

6. PLANT AND WATER SMARTER IN THE YARD

Of the estimated 29 billion gallons of water used daily by households in the United States, nearly 9 billion gallons, or 30 percent, is devoted to outdoor water use, according to the EPA. In hot summer months or in dry climates, a household’s outdoor water use can be as high as 70 percent.

To decrease that amount, Caldwell suggested planting native and drought-tolerant flowers, trees and bushes. He also said to use organic mulch to enhance soil.

“It provides the nutrients it needs,” he said. “If you are nutrient starved, you need more water.”

Caldwell also recommended watering plants in the early evening and morning, and not in middle of the day because of evaporation.

But his best suggestion to reduce water use for the landscape by 100 percent is to install rain barrels.

“You are not using any water from your house that runs through a treatment plant,” Caldwell said.

Rain barrels are linked to the home’s gutters to supply rainwater to the landscape. Caldwell said the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper sells the barrels and kits at a reduced rate.

For more information about water conservation and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, visit http://chattahoochee.org or http://www3.epa.gov/watersense.

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