Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where Have All the Snowflakes Gone? Drought Year on Tap - What I'm Doing to Help Stretch Water Resources

It's absolutely true in the northwest. We are in a drought. The Evergreen State may not be so green this year. (But if you intend to visit, we have plenty of great activities, attractions, and adventures to enjoy. It will just be dry and hopefully not as many people will be watering lawns.)

On a recent motorcycle ride, we traveled up Chinook Pass. Usually Chinook Pass is open for summer travel by Memorial Day Weekend (this upcoming weekend at the end of May). This year the snowfall was so scant and light the road crews were able to clear the roads several weeks early.

The good news is the pass was open. Traffic was light. Snowbanks were minimal. Mosquitoes were not yet in force. It was a gorgeous day.

The bad news is . . . well, the snow was almost non-existent except at the top. And the snow at the top was barely a skiff. The hillsides and trees were mostly clear of snow and moisture. The music of multiple waterfalls did not chime in our ears as we rolled by. Actually, on the motorcycle, we can hear waterfalls and smell the wonderful fresh water cascading from both above and below the road. But not this trip. Few, weak, and far between were the rushing signs of spring.

If the snowpack was that invisible to my eyes, the bodings of a long, hot, dry summer sang ever louder in my ears.

What can we do?

Here are a few choices we are making and things we do to make the water stretch. Not extreme yet, but if we all adopted at least a few measures, maybe we won't get to extreme.

~ Prayer. Really. Who owns - controls - the water of a thousand hills? (I know, the Bible says cattle of a thousand hills, but God owns it all.) Prayer is the only guarantee.

~ Stop. Watering. Every. Day. My yard is on an as-needed basis. The lawn is last. The garden is first. We do not program the sprinklers to go off each day at 6 AM. I turn them on when necessary.

~ Spot water. I know the hotspots in my yard. I hit those first and let the rest wait until water is absolutely required.

~ Don't let water run off the yard into the gutters, streets, driveway, or other moisture wasting concrete features. Oh, this is one of my top irks. What a waste! I just read about it in the paper this morning. In our city, the act of overwatering and letting streams of water pour down the drains is illegal. Homeowners are liable and can be fined. Good to know, good to know.

~ Ditch some grass. I'm working on my honey about this. It's a slow process. But when we build our new small home, there will not be much lawn. If any.

~ Plant trees for shade and less water evaporation.

~ Recycle whatever slightly dirty water you can (gray or other used water) to water outdoor trees and plants. This might not work all the time, but even a little helps.

~ Wash clothes only when the machine is full. Wear outfits a few times instead of washing each and every time (unless you work, say, at the sewer plant or outside and sweat a lot). This will also extend the life of your clothes.

~ Take short showers. Very short.

~ Quickly do the dishes.

I don't mean to preach. But I am concerned. If we all paid attention, we could ease the water supply issues and help out the farmers. I do so love to eat, don't you?

What are you doing to conserve water? I would love to hear! Maybe I can add your strategies to our plan. Thanks!

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