As Pete and I were running some errands yesterday, the usual comment about how hot it was outside (and humid!) came up. I mentioned to Pete that although it has been very hot and humid (with temperatures over the norm for most of July), we weren’t in drought conditions like other parts of the country, that we had received a lot a rain as well. So imagine my surprise when I read “Today’s Weather” in Sunday’s Dispatch (hoping to see something without the words “hot” and “humid” in the forecast) that the Water Report for Central Ohio was “Dry,” meaning: “Use water only as needed.” I was also surprised to read that with the exception of Griggs Reservoir (with a whopping surplus of .017 feet), all the other reservoirs were below normal. Now granted, the amounts weren’t huge, with -1.41 feet below normal being the lowest level at Hoover. But I had been certain that with all this rain, those levels would have been above normal.
One very simple thing that homeowners can do to conserve water is to collect rain run-off. I’ve mentioned that Pete and I have two rain barrels. They’ve been pretty full for most of the summer and are used to water our vegetable garden, newly-planted greenery and the plants on our porch and inside the house. This water is especially perfect for our indoor plants because it doesn’t contain dissolved solutes like city water does which can’t easily leach out. The other downspouts that we have are directed into several rain gardens, keeping much of our water out of the storm water system.
In addition to rain water, we try and collect other “waste” water from the house: the water from the cat’s water bowl, and the water that runs while we are waiting for the shower to heat up. We use buckets to save this water to add to the rain barrels or water outdoor plants because any solvents in the water will leach out whenever it rains.
All of this adds up to savings for us and the planet. The rain isn’t going over concrete or other impermeable areas, picking up all sorts of chemicals and other bad things, all which end up in the Olentangy River (in our case). Having the water kept on our property helps to have the ground filter out much of the chemicals before the water gets into the water table. According to the EPA, lawn and garden watering accounts for up to 40% of water use during the summer. The EPA also indicated that the average homeowner will save about 1300 gallons of water each year by using a rain barrel. I tried to figure out how much money that would translate into, but the City of Columbus Public Utilities website was beyond me. Their rate chart would confound an accountant…
So I hope by now, all of you reading this are wondering, “Where can I get a rain barrel?” Well, there is a rain barrel workshop scheduled at the Whetstone Library on August 25 at 6.30 PM. [There are others scheduled as well.] You need to be a resident of Columbus and must register along with advanced payment of $45 to the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District. Here’s the link: http://www.franklinswcd.org/columbus-rain-barrel-program/columbus-rain-barrel-workshops/
Until next time!