Filed under: Adapting to Change | Tags: drought, grass painting, water restrictions
The California water crisis is a full-blown catastrophe, yet city councils in desert communities in the southern part of the state are actually considering approval of new, high-dollar housing communities there. You know gated communities with lakes, fountains and golf courses on three sides. IN THE DESERT. Here’s your sign:
Here’s a photo of the boat slips at a local marina…
I write here often about ways we as a society must adapt to the changes in the world brought about climate changes, peak everything and the capitalist nightmare of ever-increasing growth. Californians are obviously adapting in ways I never imagined. Here’s the latest ‘adaptation’ they’re having to endure…
Painting the grass…why not do designs and tie dye looks, peace signs or write prayers for rain? Better yet, why not paint all the dead crops green too so we’ll have something to eat?
On Monday, the town of Livingston, CA which is the next town over from where we lived in Modesto, announced serious water restrictions for its’ residents. Those poor people can only water their lawns 2 days a week now, and can only wash their cars on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. To reinforce that idea, when I woke early this morning it was still dark, but I could hear it raining outside. When I opened the door to get the newspaper, I could hear the rain, but I couldn’t see the rain! What the hell? The porch and street were dry as could be. My newly transplanted CALIFORNIA neighbor was running his sprinkler and it was wetting his lawn, the sidewalk, his house and his car! For hours… but at least it’s Wednesday.
Filed under: Climate Change, Growing Food, mulch, Reducing Waste | Tags: drought, growing food, nuclear reactors, oil pipelines, rain barrels, Waste reduction, water savings
It’s been said our next wars won’t be over oil, but water. When I lived in California a dozen years ago, everyone living in the suburbs had sprinkler systems, set on timers, that would come on and go off at predetermined times and days. Most houses didn’t have individual water meters, and were only billed a set fee each month. This of course led to serious water wastefulness and more than once I witnessed sprinklers running while it was raining. I also witnessed sprinklers that had gotten knocked awry and were simply filling the gutters. I saw first-hand the giant irrigation sprinklers on wheels that covered entire fields, the canals that had been built EVERYWHERE to channel snow melt water down to the valley from the Sierra Nevada mountains, and yet more growing fields that were customarily flooded to give the food grown there the moisture it needed to survive. I even remember seeing road side signs in some areas asking voters to ‘say yes’ to allow water to be channeled from the Colorado River to the Central Valley. It’s a freaking desert there folks, yet it’s considered “our nation’s breadbasket”!
Meanwhile, record-breaking droughts are occurring on the West Coast of North America, as life-changing flooding is occurring in England-both events that have long been warned would occur due to our changing climate. And we here in the modern world keep right on shitting in our clean water supplies and using tremendous amounts of water to extract shale oil from rock for crying out loud! I know I’m not alone in my concerns about the ability to grow enough food to feed ourselves in a water-challenged world, not to mention the health challenges and risks that such a scenario will pose. It’s no longer a matter of IF this comes to pass, but WHEN. Looks like it’ll be 2014.
So, what can we do, as individuals and as communities? I say WE because if you are alive, you’re part of this conversation. There are many small things we can do in our homes and daily lives to reduce our water needs, and even though I suspect I’m preaching to the choir repeating them here, just consider them ‘gentle reminders’. I disagree that individual efforts to use fewer resources of any kind are for naught so I’m always looking for creative new ways to conserve them. And with water savings, I often get to see the tangible results, whereas with other resources it’s not so immediately apparent.
1. Shower Less-because Michael has had surgical wounds and vacuum systems and chemo pumps attached to his body since last June, out of necessity he’s had to shower less often. NO ONE has refused to hug him yet, so it’s a water intensive ‘habit’ we Americans need to seriously reconsider. As per their custom, his English family only bathed him once a week as a child. gasp! yet he STILL managed to survive!
2. Flush Less- “When it’s yellow let it mellow, when it’s brown flush it down”. Better yet, install a composting toilet. Here’s a download for a FREE book to help you in that direction: http://humanurehandbook.com/contents.html
3. If you MUST water the lawn, convert it to food growing areas first. Then MULCH those areas to prevent evaporation and run off. Most municipalities will deliver a load of shredded leaves in the fall for just that purpose. Mine does anyway.
4. Harvest rainwater-in barrels, buckets, ponds or whatever you can manage and use it to water your garden, house plants, etc.
5. Use low-flow shower heads and flow restrictors on all your faucets. They’re easy to install and will pay for themselves quickly.
6. Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when full. If you need more dishes or clothes to last until they’re full, figure out a way to get enough extra to make that happen-yard sales often have dishes, glassware and clothing to make that an inexpensive and earth friendly option.
7. Use a phosphate-free laundry detergent, then reroute the drainage from your washing machine to a home orchard or garden or permaculture swales. I used to do this when I lived in Florida, and had THE BEST oranges and grapefruits with no other irrigation used. This concept is called “Gray Water” and there are lots of books and websites that explain it in detail.
8. Wash your own car at home, with a spray nozzle on the hose. Save money, save water, get exercise and free Vitamin D while you’re at it!
9. Water your garden or landscape plants in early morning, and at soil level rather than from above. If watered during the heat of the day, much of the water can be lost to evaporation.
10. Route the water from your dehumidifier to somewhere BESIDES the drain. Taking the drainage tube off completely will fill the reservoir, allowing you to capture it for watering houseplants, filling the dog’s bowl, filling the washing machine or flushing the toilet. You can do the same with water harvested from window air conditioners, rinsing dishes, washing vegetables, or rinsing sprouts.
11. Plant native and drought tolerant vegetables, berries, small fruits and trees. They naturally use less water.
12. When rinsing recyclable food containers, don’t wash them separately. Rinse them when you are already hand or electric washing the rest of the day’s dirty dishes. Try using one of the other sources of ‘free’ water I’ve mentioned above. I’ve watched people quite devoted to recycling use 5 gallons of water to rinse out one ketchup bottle before placing it in their recycling bin. REALLY?
13. Cover cooking pots, preventing much evaporation and preventing the food from .
14. Protect your water shed: Don’t flush drain cleaners or medications. Don’t use drain cleaners, bluing agents or garbage disposals. Don’t spray your lawn with weed killers or other poisons-there are many environmentally-friendly alternatives available now. Fence your cows, horses or other livestock out of creeks and streams.
These ideas and practices are small steps, but there are much larger ones that can be taken to protect our oceans, rivers, lakes and streams as well. For example:
DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE LARGE OIL TANKERS.
LINE YOUR COAL ASH PONDS TO PREVENT LEAKING INTO PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES.
MAKE SURE YOUR FACTORY’S WASTE REMOVAL PIPES DON’T HAVE LEAKS.
DON’T BUILD OIL PIPELINES THAT ARE 2,151 MILES LONG WITHOUT PLANNING FOR SPILLS AND LEAKS.
wait! INSTEAD, DON’T BUILD OIL PIPELINES TO BEGIN WITH.
AND FINALLY, WHEN YOU BUILD YOUR NEXT OCEAN-SIDE NUCLEAR REACTORS, MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL THE POWER GENERATORS ABOVE SEA LEVEL. YOU KNOW, JUST IN CASE THERE’S AN EARTHQUAKE OR TSUNAMI OR SOMETHING.