Going Green: Clean, potable water comes with a cost; be smart with your usage 

There are a few simple things you can do to help conserve water during the hot summer months that will help the environment and make a big impact on your water bill.

We’re lucky in the U.S. that clean, potable water is so easy to come by. But we’ve also made it so easy to access that we don’t really think or know about what it takes to make so much clean water. Water treatment plants are massive, expensive operations that require lots of electricity and chemicals. They’re absolutely necessary, but they don’t come with zero environmental costs. Every gallon of water you don’t use is a gallon that doesn’t have to be transported and treated.

Not washing your car is one way to cut back on your water use. Obviously, if your car is extremely muddy or dirty in any way that’s dangerous, you need to get it clean. But most cars that just get dusty and buggy from driving don’t really need a wash. If you are going to get your car washed, take it to an automatic car wash, because they use less water than we do when we wash our own cars. In addition, when you wash a car at home, the water ends up in storm drains, which lead to creeks and streams. That means that the soap you are using on your car will wash away and pollute animal habitats. 

If you water your lawn, stopping or at least cutting back is another way to conserve water use. Another option is planting plants and glasses that don’t need a lot of water and won’t turn brown as easily. For me though, I just let the rain water my grass and don’t fret when I have some brown spots, because it’s really not hurting anything. 

Installing a rain barrel at the end of your downspout is a great way to get free, untreated water to water your plants with. Rain barrels can also provide a reserve for use during droughts when you might be asked not to water your plants with treated water.

Rain barrels don’t have to big or ugly — there are many ways to make them look colorful and attractive.

Watering your plants when it’s cooler and darker outside lets them absorb more of the water you’re giving them without the sun and heat causing it to evaporate. That means it’s best to water your plants at night or early in the morning before it gets too hot.

Another way to make sure your plants use as much of the water you give as possible is to mulch around them. Mulch still allows water to pass into the soil, but then acts as a protective barrier against evaporation.

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

Sloths spend all their lives in trees, only coming down to the ground about once a week to defecate and urinate.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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