East Boothbay, Maine Photo by Lillian Lake

I read on the National Geographic website that Canada is richly endowed and unlikely to run out of water. The writer failed to consider Canada’s rising population, increase in agricultural production, adverse effects of climate change, and water extraction by Nestle. That said, Canadian provinces have amicable agreements which govern appropriate stewardship and conservation practices. The latter is not as likely in the United States.

While in February 2021, Florida gave the rights to Nestle to bottle 1 million bottles of water a day, they were also fighting in court with Georgia over water usage. Water conservation issues have sparked arguments from Floridian environmentalists and oystermen. I’m not well-versed on the latter; however, I know it’s the tip of the iceberg regarding water wars on the North American continent and worldwide. I first wrote about water wars ten years ago. Globally, the situation has only gotten worse.

We may think we can’t do anything, but there is plenty to do, the least of which is conserving water.

Home, school, or work tips for using water responsibly.

1. Check toilets for leaks.

2. Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth, saving about 80% of household water usage.

3. Don’t leave the water running while handwashing dishes.

4. Reuse non-greasy dishwater to water plants.

5. Begin handwashing silverware and glasses while filling the sink and rinsing.

6. Use an aerator/flow-reducer on the tap.

7. Utilize vegetable water for thinning gravies or sauces

8. Do full loads of laundry. Wear clothes more than once before washing (this is also a time saver!)

9. Run full loads in the dishwasher.

10. Don’t support Nestle. Use refillable water bottles. To produce one plastic water bottle takes 1.85 gallons of water.

11. Change out shower heads with a shut-off option to be utilized while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing.

12. Wash the car on your lawn at home with biodegradable, harmless soap. Turn off the water between soaping and rinsing.

13. Reduce plastic use. It takes 22 gallons of water to produce one pound of plastic.

14. Stop using the toilet as a wastepaper basket – reducing toilet water usage also helps waste treatment plants.

15. Water in the early morning or late evening. Avoid watering on windy days.

16. Conserve water-generated electricity.

17. Use collected rainwater to water plants, clean decks, water compost piles.

18. Use mulch to keep plants cool, lock in moisture, and prevent soil erosion. Every 1000 sq ft of mulch saves up to 30 gallons of water.

19. Petition community officials to launch water-saving incentives such as rebates or water-saving irrigation systems.

20. Petition your school or workplace to do a water usage audit. Share the findings and develop a challenge to reduce and conserve.

21. Reward faithful stewardship.

Much of the world lacks access to clean water, which means that those who have access have a responsibility to do their very best to protect the water. We won’t be perfect, but together we can make a difference.

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