If you've watched the news lately, you've seen lots of negative happenings with water. Water is a vital resource we often take for granted; plus here in the South we're paying less than a penny per gallon! If we took an inventory of all the water on Earth, 97% of the global water supply is found in the oceans, which are saline. A very small amount of salty water is also located in saline lakes (e.g., the Caspian Sea). The remaining 3% of water is 'freshwater' and is found in permanent ice, groundwater, surface water (like lakes, streams, swamps and marshes), the atmosphere and in biological organisms.
You probably don't need that much reminding that you need drinking water to survive, for plants to grow, etc. Did you know that each day you need to replace 2.4 liters of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten?
Now think about how we use water every day for all kinds of things from showering to making coffee. On average, each American uses over 70 gallons per day.
Most of our drinking water comes from either creeks and lakes; unless you have a well. Now think about all that water that runs off parking lots and roads. It goes to a drain that empties straight into a creek. It is not diverted somewhere to be treated or cleaned of pollutants first. Poor fishies and their food... they get fertilizer, pesticides, car drippings, trash and even hot rainwater (rain collects on hot asphalt and heats up) along with whatever else stormwater picks up and dumps in their habitat.
You can do things all the time to help keep our water clean. These things are simple and won't cost you much at all.
Inside the Home
- Check regularly and repair leaky faucets, toilets, and other plumbing fittings.
- Collect water you're waiting to heat up in a container to water houseplants or special plants outside.
- Shorten shower-time or turn the water off while soaping and scrubbing, then turn on to rinse. With an older showerhead, five minutes less in the shower can save you 20 gallons of water.
- Make sure to fully load your dishwasher before running.
- Don't use your garbage disposal all of the time. Learn to compost. Many foods can be composted, including vegetable trimmings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea bags.
- Make sure to adjust the water level in your washing machine to match the amount of clothes being washed.
- Household well owners can visit www.WellOwner.org or call the National hotline 855-420-9355 (855-H20-WELL) for help.
Outside the Home
- IInvest in a cheap rain gauge. Landscapes only need 1" of water per week.
- Install a spray nozzle on the end of your garden hose to adjust and control the water flow. Water your lawn in the early morning hours when temperatures are at the lowest.
- Mow the grass higher than usual to promote good root growth and prevent scorching.
- If you own a septic tank, read up on proper maintenance (http://go.ncsu.edu/septic) and have it cleaned out every 3-5 years.
- Don't assume your garden needs fertilizer. Collect soil samples and send to NC Dept of Agriculture (it's $4 Dec-Mar; free Apr-Nov) for recommendations. http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/sampleinfo.htm
- Collect your rainwater in barrels or cisterns for watering plants. Every square foot of roof sheds ~1 gallon of water in a 1" rain and every square foot of landscape needs 1" of rain or 1 gallon of water per week (for those who need specifics 1" rain = 0.625 gallons of water).
- Pick up litter everyday or participate in the big clean up events in March.
- Dispose of old prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical supplies during Operation Medicine Drop events.
- Participate in Forsyth Creek Week from March 14-22, 2015. You can learn more about ways to improve water as well as enjoy with the activities we have planned throughout the county.
For the last two years Forsyth Cooperative Extension has partnered with 24 other government and nonprofit organizations to create a week-long, water celebration. FCW was designed to help residents “connect the dots” in recognizing that our quality of life depends on healthy waterways. Thirty events were scheduled across the county to provide opportunities for residents to discover and explore water through recreational activities, films, educational programs (fly-fishing demos, lectures and creek crawls), and volunteer service projects.
Last year ~1200 citizens helped to clean up 14 tons of dumped trash as well as collect 335 lbs of unwanted medicine. Forsyth Cooperative Extension provided education lectures about stream ecology and innovative stormwater practices as well as hands-on stream health evaluation to 55 folks. 25% of participants said they planned to incorporate at least one of the practices mentioned while 15 said the hands-on demonstration helped them better understand how to collect macroinvertebrate stream data as well as determine on their own how healthy a stream was. Extension also sold 45 rain barrels to citizens. Each year these rain barrels will capture 32175 gallons but over the next 30 years 1922 lbs of nitrogen could potentially be removed from stormwater runoff; currently offset payments from polluters are valued at $20.59 per pound of nitrogen. More than 1700 citizens participated throughout the week.
This year PEA along with WSSU's Office of Science Initiatives are helping to sponsor a weather pattern and climate prediction lecture by our State Climatologist, Dr. Ryan Boyles. Ryan will discuss how NC tries to decipher when the next disaster could hit on March 17, 5:30p at WSSU's Diggs Gallery. Check outwww.forsythcreekweek.com for the full line-up of fun, educational events we'll have offered!