Most people reading this have grown up with a tap, or many of them, that bring clean drinking water right into your house. But did you know that 1 in 4 people – 1.8 billion people – on Earth don’t even have access to clean drinking water? Even some areas of the U.S. have been drilling deeper and deeper to find water. As we watch lake levels fall in the western part of the U.S. due to severe drought (Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Great Salt Lake) while at the same time we see people on ocean coastlines struggling to stay above the water levels, we realize that water deserves a lot more respect than we may be giving it!
In this region of the U.S., we are lucky to have the water resources we do, but as we’ve seen a few years ago in White Bear Lake, water security is not a foregone conclusion. Where our water comes from and where it goes it not always clear. What we do know is that we’d like to have our freshwater aquifers replenished on an ongoing basis to keep our systems working properly. Otherwise, water will run down driveways to streets into sewers, right into the river and eventually the ocean.
In our own yards, the best way to keep water where we want and need it is to create rain gardens in low areas to collect the rain and allow it to percolate back into our own groundwater system. St. Andrew’s has several of these right on our campus. There are many beautiful native plants that can go into a rain garden that will tolerate drought when the rains don’t come, but also tolerate the higher water levels when the garden fills up. Pollinators love them!
Another way to capture water is to connect your gutters to a rain barrel…or two. Would you believe that just a ¼” rainfall on a 20’ x 40’ roof adds up to almost 1,500 gallons of water?! It’s wonderful to be able to fill watering jugs with rainwater from the barrels to water plants and gardens, instead of having to pull more clean drinking water from our limited aquifers.
Other tips inside the home include turning off water taps while you’re brushing your teeth, lathering up your hair or body in the shower, washing dishes, or even just singing Happy Birthday while you scrub your hands! Let’s give our fresh water the respect it deserves and conserve this precious resource for our future.