The Milwaukee Wetscape & Why Conserve?
In Milwaukee, we’re lucky to have an abundance of water. This basin is home to 1000 miles of river and is bordered by Lake Michigan, which contains over one trillion gallons of water. But even Milwaukee’s vast water resources are limited and, because of this, we need to protect and conserve them.
In recent decades, human demand and climate change have placed unprecedented pressure on our national water resources. And while some regions have experienced higher than average rainfall, many parts of the US are suffering record dryness. Notably, in September of 2007 nearly half of the country was experiencing drought, and major bodies of water like the Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, have been showing significantly reduced water levels.
Water Conservation Tips
In the Bathroom:
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
- Turn off the water while shaving, and instead fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor.
- Install a low-flow shower head. It may cost you some money up front, but your water conservation efforts will save you money down the road.
- Fix those leaky faucets. You may think that a constant drip is just annoying, but it’s also a huge waste of water (you can lose about 20 gallons of water per day from a single drippy faucet!).
- If you’re in the market for a toilet, buy a low-flow model they use as little as half as much water as normal toilets. Also, look into the water-saving dual flush toilets that are currently used around the world.
In the Kitchen:
- When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running the whole time. If your sink has two basins, fill one with water for washing, and another with water for rinsing. If you only have one basin, lather up and scrub a bunch of dishes, then turn the water on to rinse them all at once.
- Only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full.
- Scrape dishes into the trash rather than rinsing. New dishwashers don’t even require pre-rinsed dishes.
- Boil food in as little water as possible. You just need enough to submerge your pasta and potatoes and, with less water, you keep more flavor and nutrients in your veggies.
- Use the water left over from boiling to water your plants (just let it cool down first!).
- Eat meat and dairy foods fewer times a day, or just in smaller portions. The amount of water used to produce animal products far exceeds the amount used for growing vegetables and grains.
- When grocery shopping, try to buy more whole foods like vegetables, rice and potatoes. Processed foods and beverages like chips, candies, pre-made meals, and sodas take a lot more water to produce than foods that come straight from the farm.
Lawn & Garden:
- Water your lawn during the cool parts of the day, like in the early morning or late evening. This helps to prevent evaporation that happens during the hot hours of the day.
- Don’t water the lawn on windy days, because wind increases evaporation.
- Set up your sprinklers so they are not spraying the sidewalk or driveway.
- Use a drip irrigation system instead of a hose or sprinkler to water your garden.
- Hand-water your lawn or garden instead of using sprinklers when possible. You’t use less than half as much water this way.
- Get a rain sensor for your automatic sprinklers, or just make sure to turn them off on days when rain is expected.
- Set lawn mower blades one notch higher. Longer grass means less evaporation.
- Direct the water drain line from your air conditioner to a flower bed, tree base, or onto your lawn.
Set up a rain barrel under a rain gutter outside your house. You can catch hundreds of gallons to use for watering the lawn, washing the car, etc. Just don’t drink it, and make sure to keep it covered with a screen so it doesn’t breed mosquitos. Check your local municipal regulations to see if a rain barrel is allowed.Click hereto learn more about rain barrels.