What is abundant and rare at the same time? Water!
Our planet is covered with water (71 percent), yet water is one of the main limiting factors for life on Earth. March 22, 2016, is World Water Day and I encourage you to take a minute to think about all of the ways water is involved in your day. The average American uses nearly 2,000 gallons of water a day, in obvious ways, such as the morning cup of coffee and flushing toilets, to subtle ways, such as producing the foods we eat, the energy to heat and cool our homes, and the goods and services on which we rely. Water is essential to every minute of our day.
Delaware County has four major rivers – the Scioto River, Olentangy River, Alum Creek and Big Walnut Creek. In addition, we have Delaware Lake, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, Hoover Reservoir and Alum Creek Reservoir. With all of this water, it always amazes me that, of all the water on Earth, only 1 percent is available for our use. How can that be?
Bear with me and close your eyes to visualize the following:
• 4.2 cups of water in a glass container. This represents all of the water on Earth.
• Remove a little more than 3.6 cups because that is all of the Earth’s water that is too salty.
• With only a bit more than half a cup of water left in the glass container, scoop out about 4½ teaspoons of water which represents the water frozen in glaciers and ice caps.
What is remaining represents the fresh water of the world. And for the grand finale … only one drop of that remaining water is potable fresh water available to us to meet all of our daily needs. The rest is water that is too deep underground, polluted or trapped in soil for us to use. Wow!
Here’s a simple test for you:
• How much water does the average family of four use every day? Fifty, 100, 250 or 400 gallons? The average family of four in the United States uses 400 gallons of water a day. Americans’ water usage is twice the global average.
• How much water can you save by turning off the water when brushing your teeth morning and night? One, 4, 8 or 10 gallons? The answer is 8 gallons per day which equates to 32 gallons a day for a family of four. You can do the math and see how much can be saved in one year by merely turning off the tap while brushing.
• A leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second can waste how many gallons a year? Five hundred, 3,000 or 5,000 gallons? Shocking, isn’t it, to find that 3,000 gallons can be wasted in one leak? So fix those water wasters.
• How much water does it take to make a cup of coffee? One, 22, 37 or 55 gallons of water? Believe it or not, it takes 55 gallons of water to make one cup of coffee, nearly all of it to grow the coffee beans.
• When is the best time to water your lawn? Early morning or late evening, in the afternoon, or all day long? If you must water your lawn, early morning or late evening is the best time because watering in the heat of the day results in significant evaporation. Most healthy lawns only need an inch of water per week — so set a cup in the sprinkler zone to guard against overwatering.
Don’t be a drip … celebrate World Water Day on March 22 by implementing water-saving ideas at your house all year round. Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District will be offering a rain barrel workshop in May so visit the webpage at www.delawareswcd.org for all the details.
Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.