August: National Water Quality Month
Water. It seems like such a simple thing, yet it is so critical to life everywhere on Earth. Humans are approximately 65% water. About 71% of the Earth's surface is covered in water, but only about 2.5% of that is freshwater. And of that 2.5%, only about 1% is accessible.
During National Water Quality Month, we thought we'd share a few ways that you could practice water conservation at home, to ensure that we protect this essential natural resource.
Chemicals include motor oil and antifreeze, paints, fertilizers, and pest control products.
- Never dump any chemicals or waste of any kind into storm drains or gutters.
- Take used motor oil and other hazardous liquid waste to your local Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Center. Do a quick google search to find the center nearest you.
- If a spill occurs, contact your local fire department and waste management center.
"Runoff" is polluted water that washes into storm drains and eventually makes its way to rivers and lakes. Urban and suburban areas create huge amounts of runoff because much of the land is paved or built upon.
- Choose porous pavement materials for driveways and sidewalks.
- Don't overuse fertilizers, and sweep up excess instead of hosing it away.
- If you have a septic system, get a professional inspection every three to five years.
We love our pups and kitties, but their poop can be highly hazardous.
- Do not compost pet waste with your regular compost, as composting does not reach a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria and pathogens that can cause salmonella, giardia, and other serious illnesses. If you want to compost pet waste, you'll need a special, separate composting container.
- Always bag your dog's waste and dispose of it in a trash receptacle, or flush it down the toilet (without the bag!). Never flush cat waste, which contains different pathogens and breaks down very differently than dog waste.
- Do NOT put your pet's poop in your yard waste or recycle bins — even if you use biodegradable poop bags or litter.
You may have locally imposed water use restrictions, depending on where you live. Drought-stricken states may only allow garden watering on certain days of the week, or may have incentives to replace lawns with drought-tolerant plants. Here are some additional steps you can take to conserve at home.
- Use a rain barrel to catch and reuse rainfall.
- Take short showers rather than baths.
- Only wash full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher.
- Fix any leaking or running toilets, faucets, and showerheads.
- Upgrade to low-flow showerheads and toilets.
Protecting our water resources at home is not only good for the environment; it's also good for your bottom line as you'll consume less water and lower your water bills.
Do you want to do more to promote clean, safe water throughout the country, and even the world? Here are some charities and initiatives that could really use your help: