Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Water Conservation During Drought

A year ago, about this time, my Cypress pond looked like this. My flowers were in bloom and the garden was off to a good start. Not so this year.
Today the herons moved in to feed on what is left of the fish
in what is left of the pond.

In the last 90 days, we have had less than a collective total of 3/4 of an inch of rain. For the last 30 days, each afternoon weather report has offered the hope of a 75%+ chance of afternoon thunderstorms. And, it has stormed. We see the lightning and hear the distant thunder and if we get in the car and drive for 15 minutes in any direction, we are likely to get wet. But my neighborhood seems to exist under an giant, unseen umbrella and we passed desperate two months ago. First, the garden slowed down, stressed by the temperatures hovering around 100 degrees day after day. My watering of containers changed from once to twice daily and still the leaves would wilt. When the shrubs around the house began to show signs of stress, I set out the sprinklers, along with shallow containers to measure water amounts, moving to another location when a 2" soaking had been achieved. I realized I was fighting a losing battle when the brown grass began to turn black as the roots actually deteriorated and several shrubs, some distance from the house, actually died. Now my smaller trees, like the dogwood, look as if they are in trouble.

---These have both died---
Last week I noticed a change in my well water. The iron content is greater and there are tannins, all signs that the well water level is dropping. So, conservation is now a necessity. Here are the things we're doing to reduce our water usage:
  • Brushing teeth with the water turned off.
  • Placing a 1/2 gallon jug of water in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of "flush water".
  • Reducing shower time and frequency by half.
  • Hanging bath towels to dry and sanitize in the sun after showering to launder less often.
  • Combining darks & lights into a single load of laundry.
  • Eliminating use of the dishwasher.
  • Keeping a dishpan of soapy water in the kitchen sink for quick hand washing.
  • Watering container vegetables using a watering can instead of the garden hose.
  • Cooling water used for cooking pasta & vegetables for use on garden containers.
  • Accepting the fact that some plantings will be lost.
For us, the drought is a matter of inconvenience. For the area farmers, it's a tragedy. Corn crops are ruined. Cotton did not even come up. The loss of summer grasses and winter hay endanger livestock and much of the livestock is having to be sold for lack of water.
These are difficult times but we will all get through them. Somehow, we always do. And I've noticed that, whether we were inclined to roll up our sleeves or get down on our knees, when we look back on hard times, we seem to have gained strength or pride or self-confidence in having come through them.

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