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We've all become more aware of our critical responsibility to respect, maintain and conserve Florida's water resources.
At times when our rivers are flooding and water seems to be everywhere we don't want it, water conservation seems unnecessary.
But when we remember that no matter how much it rains only a portion of this water actually seeps back into North Florida's aquifers (which are where more than 90 percent of our drinking water comes from), we have to admit that it is important to conserve this vital resource.
Here are some things that you can do in your home and garden.
Check for water leaks. You can do this by making sure your water meter reading does not change over a two-hour period when you are not using any water. Obviously, if you have a leak, fix it, it will save you $$ as well.
Toilets can be a subtle source of water loss. Check for leaks by using leak detector tablets or a few drops of food coloring in a clear tank of water and see if color appears in the bowl within 30 minutes.
If you are replacing a toilet, be sure to choose a low flow type and don't use your toilet as a trash can for dead bugs, Kleenex, etc.
Low-flow showerheads really make a difference (2.5 gallons/min vs. 8 gallons/min). They are required in all our green lodgings, are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. And of course, don't meditate in the shower!
Turn off the water while you are brushing you teeth. And, be sure the dishwasher is full before you run it.
Make sure to adjust your water setting to the size of your wash load and consider water-efficient models when replacing your washer as they use 50% less water.
If you must water your lawn remember these tips:
Water only when you need it - a good hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for as long as two weeks.
Overwatering results in shallow root systems making your lawn less drought and stress tolerant as well as promoting weed growth and disease.
Water in the early morning or early evening - avoiding the heat of the day and windy conditions.
You do not need to water more than 3/4-in at any one time
If you use an irrigation system be sure to install water-efficient sprinklers.
Consider Water- Wise Landscaping: drought-tolerant grasses, groundcovers, shrubs and trees.
Remember grass requires more water, where possible use mulch or ground-cover.
Finally, remember: a leaky house or drippy outdoor faucet can waste gallons of water a day… and cost you a pretty penny as well.
For this column the EAP referenced Florida's Water, It's Worth Saving published by St John's River Water Management District, 2006 (www.floraswater.com).