Henrico County residents asked to conserve water; effects of summer drought still being felt
December 18, 2012 - 4:00 am · By
mbnail” src=”http://www.downtownshortpump.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/watertowerthumbnail.jpg” width=”75″ height=”75″ />The Henrico County Department of Public Utilities is asking its 93,000 customers to conserve water, because the impact of this summer’s drought is still being felt in December.
The lack of rain is affecting the water level of the James River, which supplies much of the water for Henrico County. NBC12 meteorologist Andrew Freiden says the James River is steady but low. “It’s kind of a low level,” he says. “It’s been at 3.8, 3.9 feet, which is far from the danger level.”
However, he points out that “we will have to watch what winter brings.” He cautions, “Keep in mind that if we don’t get a lot of rain or snow this winter, we may be in a bad situation this spring.”
Other areas are feeling the impact of the summer’s drought too. Since the summer, many local areas, including south Chesterfield county and Colonial Heights, have been placed under mandatory water restrictions, because Lake Chesdin is not completely full.
The drought is affecting local businesses that rely heavily on water. As the seasons change, landscapers, such as Eric Evans who owns Custom Landscape Solutions in Henrico, are subject to the cycles of the seasons, as well as extreme weather patterns. Winter yard work includes collecting leaves and mowing lawns.
Using gallons of water is a big part of the job, but with an ongoing drought, Evans ran into a problem last fall.
“When you’re doing seeding, you have to have water for germination,” he said. “So we had a lot of properties that don’t have irrigation that we didn’t get great results on because they just can’t be watered.”
Americans on average use about 100 gallons of water per day. That’s twice as much as Europeans, who typically use about 50 gallons of water per day, and many times more than a person living in sub-Saharan Africa, who averages about 2-5 gallons of water use per day.
The single activity that uses more water than all other water-using activities combined is flushing the toilet.
Central Virginia’s population growth is also fueling the demand for water. Not only do residents need water for consumption but for energy too. It is impossible to produce energy without water, and the county’s demand for electricity is growing too.
“It’s a problem we’re seeing worldwide,” says Melissa McDonald, LEED GA, with environmental planning and business development with Sustainable Water, a company dedicated to water reclamation and reuse technology (i.e., recycling and reusing water) that reduces both the carbon footprint and the water footprint simultaneously. “Weather patterns are becoming more extreme, causing dry areas to get drier, wet areas are becoming wetter and getting flooded, and then, as is the case with Virginia, we’re seeing droughts on a regular persistent basis where we didn’t see droughts before.”
McDonald adds, “On top of that, we’re seeing increases in demand for water and for electricity, due to growing populations and due to our 21st century lifestyle that’s full of electronic gadgets and toys. People think that the global water crisis means people in less developed countries not having enough water, but it can happen and is happening her at home too.”
Here some easy ways to conserve water at home:
- Install low-flow shower heads. Get the kind with a quick-stop button on the side that stops the flow of water while you’re sudsing up and don’t really need the water running. That way, you can turn it back on with the touch of a button when you’re ready to rinse.
- Wear clothes more than once, instead of throwing them immediately into the laundry.
- Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load to save water and energy.
- Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. It uses approximately 20 gallons of water to wash a load of dishes by hand, but the dishwasher uses only 9-12 gallons to wash the same load of dishes.
- Don’t run the water when you’re brushing your teeth. The average person can save 4 gallons of water by not letting the water run when they brush their teeth, which will also lower the utility bill.
- When washing vegetables and fruits, wash them in a tub instead of under running water. Or, if you must use running water, capture the running water in a bowl or tub and re-use that water to water your plants or even flush your toilet.
- If you’re not going to drink the water they bring you at a restaurant, request they don’t bring it. It takes two glasses worth of water to wash that one glass, not to mention the water that’s being wasted in the glass if you’re not going to drink it.
- Remember the old adage from the 70s, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow”? Try not flushing your toilet every time you use it. If everyone flushed the toilet one less time each day, it could save a lake full of water about one mile long, one mile wide and four feet deep.
The DPU says they will let people know if water conservation efforts change as conditions change.
For more information on the drought in Henrico and to get updates from the DPU, check the announcement on their website at http://www.co.henrico.va.us/pr/news/water-conservation.html.
For more information on conserving water, visit http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/