Saving water in Asheville

While down at Drinking Liberally a week ago, some friends remarked about how relaxed Asheville has been on the current drought. They pointed out that there has been little official encouragement aimed at water conservation.

Elaine Lite was Rite! There are limits to growth. Some we impose by choice and some [are] set by nature. I was just in Birmingham and saw their completely scorched lawns. Some houses had yard signs proclaiming any watering was supplied by private wells, an obvious sign that there are official restrictions in place. The term “Ashevegas” so far has referred to a blog site but may, in the near future, refer to the way we (don’t) deal with our water supply. Raise your hand if you are aware that the Colorado River rarely makes it all the way to its delta in the Gulf of California.

Here’s something I tried out with success: Put a couple of cheap plastic dishpans on the floor of your shower. The water you catch waiting for the warm stuff to arrive can be used for anything. While showering, stand with a foot in each dishpan for a nice warm soak. The soapy shower water can be used to flush the toilet. [You] should get two or three flushes from one shower. Pour straight into the toilet bowl. Pour a little in slowly after the flush to replace the bowl water. Also, if allowed in your household: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” is a valid flush cycle.

You landlords can encourage tenants to conserve [in order] to head off increased water rates, which naturally will be reflected in higher rents. Let’s be true conservatives—of resources.

— Larry Abbott
Buncombe Green Party

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One thought on “Saving water in Asheville

  1. Stewart David

    Great suggestions, Larry. You are also doing your part at “Drinking Liberally,” as quaffing beer is a great choice when it comes to water conversation. See my Mountain Xpress letter below to see just how much water is used to produce milk. What an amazing waste of resources!

    Pass the fruit, soy—and beer

    The inherent wastefulness of eating meat is making its way into the public consciousness. It’s hard to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence, including the 2006, 390-page United Nations report, Livestock’s Long Shadow. This landmark study noted that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined.

    Less cited, however, is the tremendous amount of water used for both meat and dairy production. With drought conditions in the Southeast reaching critical proportions, it’s time we take a look at how dietary choices affect the water supply. Cornell University scientist David Pimentel has shown that “producing a pound of animal protein requires, on average, about 100 times more water than producing a pound of vegetable protein.” Even more remarkable is the amount of water required to produce milk. The same UN report mentioned above notes that, “On average 990 litres of water are required to produce one litre of milk.” I knew that cycling tremendous amounts of food and water through animals was incredibly inefficient and that mostly we get back feces and urine in return, but I was truly shocked to learn just how much water is wasted by dairy production.

    The official handbook for Live Earth, the global-warming concerts that Al Gore co-organized, says that “refusing meat” is the ”single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint” (emphasis in original). Not consuming animal products is also a powerful way to conserve water. Pass the fruits, veggies, soy milk, juice and beer!

    — Stewart David

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