I was flying into MSP from New York on a clear day last week. I fly this route often. Even so, I was awestruck by the amount of water dotting the lush green prairie and farms – thousands of lakes, rivers, steams and ponds. It is a little known fact that Minnesota has more shoreline than any other state in the lower 48. Think about it, that’s more shoreline than Florida, Texas or California.
Even though, we drink it. We bathe in it. We cook with it. We swim in it. We are primarily made of it yet we take water for granted. From where we sit in a land of 10,000 lakes, it is hard to believe that two billion people are without enough clean water. By 2025 two out of every three people on the planet will live in water-stressed areas.
Here is how we can do our part to make sure that we don’t taint or waste a precious drop of our H2O:
Find and Stop leaks
Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when the water is not being used. If the meter doesn’t read exactly the same, there is most likely a leak somewhere. A dripping faucet can waste as much as 2700 gallons a year down the drain!
Toilet tank leaks can be found by adding food coloring to the tank. If you do have a leak, the food coloring will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. (Flush the toilet at 30 minutes so that the food coloring doesn’t color the porcelain toilet bowl.)
Take a five minute shower, instead of a bath and you will use a third of the water, saving as much as, 100 gallons each week. If your shower can fill a one gallon or 4 liter bucket in less than 20 seconds, it is time to replace your showerhead with an ultra low flow model.
Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth saves nearly one gallon of water for the average tooth brusher.
Water saving cleaning
Don't use your washing machine until you've got a full load. The average wash uses about 24 gallons of water. One full load uses less water than two half loads.
Kitchen sink disposals use lots of water to operate, can cause plumbing problems and add solids to the water supply that need to be removed at water treatment plants. Instead, compost those kitchen scraps.
In the yard
Cut down on phosphorus runoff by washing your car on the grass, not in the driveway, where soap runs into the storm sewer. Use no phosphorus fertilizer (middle# on the bag should be –0-). Don’t let lawn clippings or leaves blow into the street, landing in the storm sewer where they can decay and create algae blooms in the nearest body of water.
At “the cabin”
A lawn that runs down to the water’s edge with no native plants to filter out the chemicals that run off our roofs, driveways and turf, results in a green dying lake over time. Be an example and hero to your lake neighbors, love your "weeds" and highlight the beauty of an old fashioned natural shoreline.
You don’t have to go to a food coop – just go to any grocery store. Organic food is grown without synthetic chemicals. It’s better for us, better for the land (organic means healthy soil) and better for our waters because synthetic chemicals do not run off into the nearest lake or river.
The bottom line is that each of us has the power to make a difference in our water supply. Celebrate that power with a Riverboat cruise at Minnesota Waters’ RiverNight 2010 fundraiser on August 18th 4-8:30 at Harriet Island in St. Paul. Advance tickets are required. For more information .