Recently I attended the AmericanInstitute of Architectsconvention in Georgia. Thetheme was "Waves of Change." Theeducational sessions exposed us tothe global water crisis and taught ussome strategies to help reduce ourwater consumption. The facts are sobering.Consider:
- Nearly 1 billion people lack accessto safe water. Only 63 percent ofthe world's population have accessto improved sanitation. Half of theworld's hospitalizations are due towater-related disease and 3.6 millionpeople die each year from water-relateddisease. Seventy percent of theworld's freshwater supply is devotedto agriculture.
- Closer to home, the water situationis not encouraging. A 2009 studyby Columbia University determinedthat the water shortages from the2007-2008 drought in the Southeastwere due to the explosive populationgrowth in the region and will happenagain. As the population grows, theavailability of clean water becomesscarcer and scarcer.
- Atlantic magazine in a November10, 2010 article named the top tenbiggest United State's cities that facethe risk of running out of water in thenext decades. Our neighbors, Atlantaand Orlando, were numbers 9 and 10,respectively. Orlando's main sourceof water is the Floridan Aquifer,which is the same aquifer that wellwater in Beaufort County is drawnfrom. Atlanta's main water supply isfrom Lake Lanier. Georgia, Alabama,and Florida have been engaged in abitter 20-year battle over this freshwater reservoir. If the federal judge'sruling that Atlanta's withdrawalsare illegal is upheld, the city will losealmost 40 percent of its water supply.In 2008, Georgia engaged Tennesseein a legal battle over their mutualboundary line and the control of theTennessee River. One can only imaginethat Atlanta will covet the SavannahRiver if they do indeed lose 40percent of their water supply.
There are many ways to conservewater. Changes in behavior to savewater include turning off the faucetwhile you brush your teeth, takinga shower instead of a bath, takingshorter showers, turning off the waterwhile you are soaping up, runningfull loads in both your dishwasherand washing machine, mulchingyour landscaping to retain water,washing your car less often, andchoosing a car wash that recycleswater or, if you are washing your carat home, turning off the water whilewashing the car.
If you are remodeling,consider the following: In thebathroom, replace all faucetswith EPA Watersense labeledproducts. (http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense). Install lowflush Watersense labeledtoilets; replace your washingmachine with a front-loadingEnergyStar model; replaceyour dishwasher with an EnergyStarmodel. Collectinggraywater (water from lavatories,showers and bathtubs) forreuse in flushing the toilet is anexcellent way to conserve water,but unfortunately it is notallowed by all municipalities.
Harvesting rainwater fordomestic use is one of the mostsignificant acts you can do toconserve water. The simplestmethod is collecting rain in arain barrel for irrigation purposes.
A rainwater harvesting systemwith our 50-inches of raina year, can capture enoughrainwater to supply 100 percentof non-potable waterneeds. A rain harvesting systemcollects water from yourroof through standard guttersand downspouts. The water isthen filtered to remove debrisand stored in either below orabove ground cisterns. An internalpump then delivers thewater where you want it.
Even though 70 percentof the earth is covered withwater, only 3 percent of thatwater is fresh water and lessthan 1 percent is available forconsumption.
There is no new water, solet's work together to protectour fragile supply.
Jane Frederick is a principal inFrederick + Frederick Architects inBeaufort. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-522-8422.