While driving I-5 through California, my gaze follows the reader board above the interstate. The usual “buckle up” or “road construction” spelled out in LED lights isn’t there. Instead the reader board states: “SERIOUS DROUGHT HELP SAVE WATER.” I say to myself, “Wow this must be serious.” And it is. California is in the most serious drought in history. In fact, the governor declared it a catastrophic drought emergency. When we travel to and experience places like Yosemite, we tend to think about preserving these beautiful resources. Well now is your chance to act!
- No plastic water bottles. Reuse the same water bottle all day long.
- Turn off the faucet. Not just when you brush your teeth, but also when you wash your hands. Wet them, turn off the faucet to lather the soap, and then quickly rinse. This also applies to washing your hair in the shower!
- Take short showers. Challenge yourself to take a shower in 5 minutes or less- you’ll save gallons!
- Don’t use a full flush every time. Each flush takes up to 7 gallons of water with it! “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.”
- When washing dishes, fill a soap bath instead of letting the water run.
- Every time you dump out water, whether it’s from empty coolers or just undrinkable, pour it on a plant not on the pavement.
- Hang the “do not disturb” sign when staying at hotels. This will ensure they won’t change your towels or bed sheets when you’re staying two nights or more and avoids unnecessary laundering that uses up water.
- Re-wear clothes or wash them in the sink. Rarely do you have a full load to wash, and when washers use up to 40 gallons of water each load, it is a waste to have two shirts in there.
Can you imagine what our national parks would be like without water? Picture the Grand Canyon without the Colorado River or Yosemite without waterfalls. Less than one half of one percent of the water on our planet is drinkable. With our population growing by 85 million people a year and our demand for freshwater doubling every 20 years or so, the problem is real. Sometimes if we don’t see the problem firsthand, we won’t try to fix it. If you are from a state that has plenty of rainfall and ample fresh water, please think about places like California and other desert areas where water is scarce and do your part to conserve. Of all our finite resources on the planet, fresh water is going to run out first. We can live without oil but not water. We have to act now.