Water Conservation & Drought Preparedness Tips

A drought is defined as a period of extremely dry weather that persists for a long enough length of time that it can cause serious imbalances such as water supply shortages and crop damage. Droughts can have a devastating effect on both the people and environments that experience them. Droughts can have differing degrees of severity based on the degree of moisture deficiency as well as the size of the area affected and how long the drought lasts. Generally, a drought can be described in one of four ways; meteorological, agricultural, hydrological, and socioeconomic.

  • Agricultural - This occurs when the amount of moisture contained in soil is no longer enough to meet the needs of a specific crop.
  • Meteorological - Occurs when an area experiences less precipitation than it normally does. It is important to note that due to differences in climate, what might be considered a drought in one location may not be considered a drought in another location.
  • Socioeconomic - This occurs when a water supply cannot meet environmental and human needs, and the balance between supply and demand is upset.
  • Hydrological - Occurs when both the surface and subsurface water supplies are lower than normal.

Ways to Conserve Water During a Drought

Depending on the severity of a drought, there may be water restrictions put into place by officials. These restrictions can be anything from recommending that people conserve water as much as possible, or a drought can be severe enough that the use of water is actually restricted. While recommended conservation generally includes such things as only watering lawns or washing cars on certain days of the week, restrictions can be much more serious. Restrictions generally include limited hours where water may be used for any purpose. Even if your community does not have recommendations or restrictions in place, it is still beneficial to the environment to conserve as much water as possible and there are some simple steps that can be taken to do so.

Indoor Water Conservation Tips

  • Try to flush the toilet only when absolutely necessary.
  • Take short showers instead of long showers or baths that use much more water.
  • When washing your face or brushing your teeth, don't let the water run continuously.
  • Consider placing a pail in the shower to catch extra water that can then be used to water plants instead of going down the drain.
  • If drinking tap water, consider storing a container in the fridge instead of letting the faucet run until the water gets cold every time you want a drink.
  • Only use the dishwasher when it is completely full, and don't rinse dishes prior to use. Most dishwashers are powerful enough that rinsing dishes beforehand is unnecessary.
  • If not using a dishwasher, hand wash dishes by soaking them in a container filled with soapy water instead of running the faucet the entire time.
  • Only wash laundry when you have a full load of clothes and consider reducing the set water level on the machine.
  • Don't use running water to thaw meat and other frozen products. Instead, place them in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. The microwave can also be used to defrost frozen items.

Outdoor Water Conservation Tips

  • Most people over-water their lawns. Consider cutting back on how often you water your lawn. Generally, lawns only need about one inch of water per week to thrive.
  • Avoid using sprinklers and leaving hoses running, as these things can waste hundreds of gallons of water in a fairly short period of time.
  • Use a leaf blower or broom instead of a hose to get rid of debris in your driveway or on your sidewalk.
  • Instead of washing your car at home, try to find a car wash that recycles their water.
  • When experiencing an extreme drought, allow your lawn to die instead of wasting water on keeping it green.

Droughts can occur just about anywhere and can cause a big disruption in the environment and the lives of people that live in the area where a drought is occurring. Luckily, there are many steps, as stated above, that can be taken to cut down on water use and do your part to help out during a drought.

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Written By: Lynn Taylor

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