Water Conservation: What Do You Really Think?

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

Having just returned from a trip to Israel, I am struck with how Israelis don’t take water for granted. This tiny country, which is primarily situated on arid land and dependent on the Sea of Galilee for its major source of water, is a bastion of luscious flora. And a majority of the vegetation is done with drip irrigation : few overhead sprinklers or ‘water at your pleasure’ policies exist here. Nope! Because water is so very scarce, Israelis have always been respectful of their limited resources. Do they have their own water conservation problems? You bet. But they have minimally been aware of it for decades and have created and continue to create infrastructures to deal with this ongoing issue.

From the southern deserts of Israel where I have seen roses being grown for export to the North in the Galilee where acres of lush banana trees are bursting with fruit, Israelis have shown tremendous talent and ‘know how’ in squeezing the most out of an undesirable piece of topography. They have created a land exploding with fruits, vegetable and roses for export and for themselves. And all with a minimal amount of water.

I’d like to hear from my fellow bloggers on the issue of water conservation. Do you think it’s a highly overrated topic? How do you deal with watering your own garden? Are you incensed when you read that the Southeast may experience a real shortage of water within the next 30-90 days if they don’t receive a significant amount of rainfall? Or is it just another ‘ho hum’ story for which you have little concern?

I dare any of you to be honest about your real thoughts on water conservation. How much and how often do you actually water your garden and lawn? Don’t be shy! Political correctness is passe’!

Fran Sorin

Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of creativity, spirituality, and transformation.

In addition to being a recognized garden expert and deep ecologist, Fran is a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender.

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Lisa at Greenbow October 31, 2007, 8:34 pm

I don’t think conservation of our natural resourses can be over rated as a concern. We only have one planet and it is becoming so populated that if we don’t start to try to conserve our resourses we or for sure future generations are going to be in for a miserable existence.

I never water the lawn. That is a grow or die aspect of our garden. I only water plantings that are in dire need of watering. In our little corner of the world there is usually enough rain to satisfy our gardens needs. This summer was an exception. I did more watering of plantings than ever.

I am concerned about the people in the SE that are needing rain. You can’t do much about rainfall. A person, or town can and should do their job of conserving water and not wait for the government to tell them to do so.

Although there are some out there that certainly do their part in conservation of water and other resourses there are those that need education and in the case of those that abuse the conservation/ration quotas they need intervention.

Education regarding conservation is needed now more than ever.

Pam/Digging November 1, 2007, 9:46 am

I am horrified by the drought in Georgia. Here in Texas, unusually heavy summer rainfall pulled us out of a 10-year-drought. But when I look at Georgia’s situation, I think “there but for the grace of God go I.” And I worry about what will happen if water supplies dry up in several regions of our country. Will people move? How will they get the value out of their houses? How will that affect the regions people move to?

I practice water conservation to a degree, but I could do much better. I keep two rain barrels and use them mostly to refill my container pond and for hand watering. I’d love to have a big cistern someday.

I don’t have a sprinkler system, but I grow mostly xeric plants, and I have almost no lawn, so I can get by with watering about every 10 to 14 days in our blistering, dry summer. I water much less at other times of the year. I use a lot of soaker hoses, but I resort to overhead sprinklers for the largest parts of my garden.

I’m always redoing portions of my garden, and those require more water to get established, so I’m frequently out in the mornings with a hose in my hand, but it’s just to get the new plants established.

A cistern for that kind of watering would be wonderful. It’s on my wish list.

Jane November 1, 2007, 11:52 am

Where I live we get most of our water from a river which is glacier-fed, and the glaciers are melting away. Local precipitation is unpredictable – we’ve had a few dry years lately and have lost many trees due to it. In the garden I have two rainbarrels which I use to water the vegetable garden and for getting new plants established and to keep the compost pile moist, and I NEVER water grass. The only time I use treated water in the garden is watering vegetables when the rainbarrels are totally empty.

In the house I waste tons of water. Must work on that.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 1, 2007, 1:38 pm

The other night I watched a segment of “MegaDisasters” on the History channel about the probability of an imminent Dust Bowl-type disaster in the American Southwest because of too much development in the desert & desert land irrigated to use for crops. Normally I watch this program for a good laugh (“Megatsunami” was a fun 1), but this was too likely, too soon. There was even a suggestion of piping water from the Great Lakes down to Texas. As a resident of a Great Lake state, I say, “No way.” We all have to be concerned about water usage. It is no longer a limitless resource.

fsorin November 5, 2007, 6:31 am

Lisa-

Thanks for your response..very thoughtful.
I agree that more education is needed about water conservation. So, what can we garden bloggers do to ‘educate ourselves and others’
more efficiently and pervasively? fran

fsorin November 5, 2007, 6:36 am

Pam-

Kudos to you on the steps you’ve taken in water conservation. I agree with your outlook about Georgia and have great compassion for the folks there. You are doing so many things ‘right’ when it comes to conserving water. Do you find that your fellow Texans
are conserving water and planting in a more xerix style in recent years? And yes, that is the price that all of us pay when we plant a new bed….that more water is needed. But doing so is in the spirit of generating new life!!! Thanks for your wonderful comments! Fran

fsorin November 5, 2007, 6:49 am

Jane-

Kudos to you for never watering your lawn….I finally have found a ‘partner in crime’! I have not yet gotten rain barrels….some of the responses to this post have reminded me that I need to and that it is clearly an easy to conserve water.

I agree about the need for being less wasteful indoors….I have noticed that I am waiting until there are full loads of wash before using the washing machine, taking shorter showers, etc. But there is still alot more that I could be doing….your post will act as a reminder for me. Fran

fsorin November 5, 2007, 8:36 am

MMD-

I don’t blame you for not wanting to pipe water from the Great Lakes down to Texas. They are such critical sources of water for all the states they already serve.
The situation that our country has gotten itself into with water is more than scary…it is surreal. thanks for your thoughts! fran

max November 5, 2007, 5:21 pm

I am really starting to resent the plants that want a lot of water, although I haven’t gotten rid of anything yet…

Lawns are one thing; I recently read that one devoted gardener in Colorado lost 90% of his Penstemons last year because he provides NO supplemental water at all. It blew my mind, but it’s an idea that those of us in the southwest are going to have to get used to.

fsorin November 6, 2007, 9:03 am

Max-

I’m in total agreement about resenting plants that need more water. This past season, I even found myself not giving extra water to my beloved hydrangeas when I saw that they were still wilting in early evening. I want to see how much they could ‘tough’ it out.

And although the Southwest is the leader in xerix planting style (I’ve learned much more about it thanks to fellow blogger, David Salman), the rest of the country will need to follow suit if are going to conserve nature for coming generations! Thanks for your comments! Fran

Jacqueline November 8, 2007, 10:31 pm

I came across this blog and am greatly impressed. I cannot call myself a gardener, but I have a nice one the former owners started and do my best to continue and add to in pretty deep shade.

Water conservation is on the top of my list. I installed a rain barrel this summer which got me through most of the dry summer in Takoma Park, MD. with hand watering. The soaker hose about 1x per month when it was really desperate.

I also collect from our dehumidifier for the bird baths and our fish tank, in summer about 2 1/2 gals per day (hubby says the birds don’t care, but I like to give the birds the cleaner water!).

I have an uban garden under the trees and am perplexed though about “watering” 1/4 acre of 50+ year old trees. We were discussing water jugs with small seepage holes placed around the roots.??

fsorin November 9, 2007, 9:11 am

Jacqueline,

Thanks for stopping by GGW. We’re delighted that you found us. Consider yourself a gardener if you tend to any plant material.

Am glad to hear that water conservation is on the top of your list. I was impressed that you actually recycle the water from your dehumidifer. Great idea!!

Water jugs or water cones, which you can buy ready made at places like Home Depot is one way to go. I am a big believer in using soaker hoses covered by a few inches of mulch. They do the trick everytime for me, whether it be trees or bushes. Simple but effective. Fran

Chris October 15, 2008, 12:47 am

I remember studying Israeli irrigation back when I was in college taking a water use planning class. One things folks don’t realize is that part of the reason the peace process fell apart under Clinton was because the Israelis didn’t want to give up too much of their limited watershed to the Palestinians. They felt strongly enough about it to back out of the whole deal.

Chris
LEED AP
http://www.everblueenergy.com

Chris-
Your thoughts are appreciated. But having read a fair amount as to the reasons why Clinton’s Peace Initiative in the Mid-east fell apart, to leave readers with the feeling that the Palestinians (meaning Arafat) ‘backed out of the whole deal’ due in large part to the Israeli’s unwillingness to give up certain water rights is a bit of a stretch. It was an extremely thick, complex undertaking with a multitude of permutations. Fran