Water, water everywhere,–The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
By Greg Romano and Debbra Heisler
Coleridge’s classic story is well known to sailors of all ages. A tale of consequences for one’s actions, it’s also a reminder how precious our natural resources are and the impact human beings have on our environment. Each year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day to call attention to this conflict. On this Earth Day, I urge all of us to pay particular attention to the water we drink, use and enjoy.
Those of us who sail on Lake Pleasant or Tempe Town Lake are aware of the importance of water to our lives and lifestyle. The result of water projects designed to bring water to the desert, these lakes are part of a complex ecosystem. Therefore we, especially, have a responsibility to protect these resources. Fortunately, lake levels in Arizona have not fallen to the dire levels seen in Lake Powell and Lake Mead along the Colorado River. But with ongoing drought in the Southwest, can we be far behind?
Here’s just a few ways we can each contribute toward protecting these final resources:
Treat your water as if you were on a long ocean passage:
Image you and two friends are on a boat heading to a destination 1200 miles away, with an estimated 10 days at sea. There is no watermaker. The fresh water tank capacity is 150 gallons.
- You don’t leave faucets running. And you don’t open them full flow.. Ever.
- You shower less. A lot less.
- You wash your clothes as needed, not just because you had them on for a few hours while sitting around.
- You live in quick-dry blended fabrics versus heavy cottons that require more water to clean.
When your water is in such limited supply, you make do with what you have. If we all treated our water supplies as limited, we’d be much better at preserving it.
Save Water Wherever You Can
- Take shorter showers (or double up!). Instead, get wet, turn off the water to lather-up, then rinse.
- Use a broom or blower to clean your patio or driveway
- Use the low water setting on your washing machine
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and shaving
- Use a dishwasher instead of handwashing (they are designed to use less water)
- Check for plumbing leaks, especially in your toilet tank
- Install a low water toilet
- Use drought-tolerant plants and other desert landscaping
- When in a restaurant, don’t order water if you’re not going to drink it
Wherever you are, be mindful of the need to conserve water. Pay attention to your own habits and where needed, commit to forming new habits. Encourage others, especially your family, to do the same!
Happy Earth Day! Let’s all work together to preserve the planet we live on and its resources.
Links and Other Resources
Water – Use it Wisely: Sign up for their newsletter “Your Monthly News Drops”
Plant it Wisely: Arizona Landscaping and Planting Resource
U.S. Drought Monitor
National Park Service: Glen Canyon: The latest alerts about access to Lake Powell
Central Arizona Project – Lake Pleasant
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water, by Marc Reisner – One of the best books I’ve read about the history of the west’s water issues and water politics. Available from numerous sources.