Why you need to save water even if you live somewhere rainy

What do sinkholes, drought, and agriculture have in common? Water.

Saving water was off my radar. Last year, the water table was so high where I lived that the yard didn’t dry up all summer.

I am from New York state. We have snowy winters, hot summers, and plenty of rain. I’ve lived most of my life with water from a well. Whenever I hear about water conservation, I think of California or desert land that is far away and not my concern. The weather we see isn’t a perfect reflection of the climate at large. Climate change is intrinsically linked to water; raising global temperatures can cause both drought and flooding. Simply put, too much water and too little water can be dangerous and result from the climbing global temperatures.

Conserving water is important even if you live somewhere that water is (or seems) plentiful. While most of the earth is covered with water, less than 1% of that water is accessible or safe for us to consume. Unlike many other ecological concerns, water use/security/preservation doesn't seem to be an issue of emissions, but an issue of access and use. For example, only 2% of USA energy consumption goes to moving and treating water/wastewater

Approximately 86% of the U.S. population relied on public water supply in 2010; the remainder relies on water from domestic wells.
— U.S. WATER SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION FACTSHEET, University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Development

Everyone needs water and luckily, most of us in the US have access to safe drinking water from the tap. Surface water (such as lakes and rivers) accounts for 78% of the water we use. Surface water is not an endless supply. Apart from these water sources is groundwater, which can be found underground in aquifers, soil, and crevices. For those of us using groundwater, this supply is limited as well. It’s predicted that by 2024, 40 states will have water shortages, two more states did not report information, and only 8 did not expect to experience water shortages.

Using water more efficiently helps maintain supplies at safe levels, protecting human health and the environment.
— EPA, How we use water

As we know, lakes and rivers aren't endless resources. For example, rivers can supply less water when there is not much snow melt in a given year. Larger bodies of water are usually supplied by groundwater underneath.

Overusing groundwater has consequences like dried up wells, less water in lakes and streams, lower quality water, increased cost of water, and land subsidence (when there is nothing below to support the earth and it collapses).

Near the coast, overuse of groundwater can cause brackish water (very salty groundwater) to move further in and replace fresh groundwater. While brackish water is very common in some places like Texas, it is not treated the same way as fresh groundwater.

In West-Central Florida, subsidence from overuse of ground water has been attributed to the development of sinkholes.

The consequences of draining our groundwater can be felt in places far from drought. Our food system will be impacted by this if there isn’t enough water to grow crops. An aquifer is an underground water source of porous rock full of water. Despite rainfall 50-100% heavier than average in Kansas, a massive aquifer heavily used in agriculture continued to drain in 2015. Precipitation isn’t enough to charge aquifers if they are drained too quickly. Some aquifers have little capacity to refill and could take thousands of years to do so and depends on the aquifer itself as well as its environment.

Natural refilling of deep aquifers is a slow process because groundwater moves slowly through the unsaturated zone and the aquifer.
— Infiltration -The Water Cycle, USGS Water Science School

Drought at home

66.3 million people are experiencing drought this week in the US.

Those people live in 25.4% of the US land area.

Extreme and Exceptional drought is affecting substantial areas of western Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico,  Missouri and southern California. Severe drought is present in eastern Oregon, southern California,  Kansas,  Utah, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico,  Oklahoma, northern Missouri,  southern Iowa, southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

droughtmap.jpg

Check out here to see where in the US we are currently experiencing drought.

The average family household uses over 300 gallons a day. About 70% of the water used in American households is used in the home, but 30% is used for landscape irrigation outdoors. In other words, it is estimated that the average home is using 90 gallons of water a day on landscaping.


We should all be saving water. Even where I'm from, in rainy New York state, we're experiencing abnormally dry weather. Don't forget about drought and water use just because it rains. When water is consumed faster than it can be replaced, it's not sustainable. Just because our wells or lakes aren't drying up next summer doesn't mean we shouldn't reduce our water consumption. The time to change our consumption of water is now, not when our city puts out an advisory.

Even if you live somewhere rainy or wet, consider the above information. Drinkable water isn’t a never ending source. Here are a few ways you can conserve water

-shorter showers

-not overfilling the tub

-running the dishwasher only when it’s full

-waiting for a full load to wash clothes

-don’t water your lawn

-fill the sink to wash dishes instead of running water the whole time

Check out more ways to save water here.


What do you think? Are you convinced?