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EcoFacts; What We Drink, Part 1‏

Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

Okay, to state the obvious: Every living thing needs water to survive, every drink that touches our lips, every bite that enters our mouths, every thing we encounter and use, every day. Our current drought is forcing us to rethink how we use it – how much fresh water goes down the drain, for example. And this drought won’t be the last one, so things will have to change. Our daily use, yes, but those farmers, city planners and manufacturers, will they be able to implement new and better ways of doing old things?

A town in Orange County has the largest water recycling facility in the world, turning residential waste water into potable water – “toilet to tap” as they say. It costs less than importing water and half of what desalination costs. More of this to come, for sure.

A recent statewide analysis coauthored by a UCSB professor shows how tremendous water savings could be employed in California amounting to 14 million acre feet* per year “improved efficiency in agricultural and urban water use, water reuse and recycling, and increased capturing of local rainwater.” California has the world’s 9th largest agricultural economy. 80% of our water is used in agriculture. The state water deficit is at least 6 million acre feet, and according to this report, about that same amount could be saved with different irrigation practices, such as drip. Not something that will happen overnight.

The below infographic says it all, a glimpse at our possible water future.(click to enlarge)
PS: And here is an interview with the woman who was responsible for
hydrating Las Vegas for years.
* An acre foot is a third of a million gallons, or 436 hcfs, the household unit we are billed by, a hundred cubic feet = 748 gallons.

3 Responses to “EcoFacts; What We Drink, Part 1‏”

  1. Let the desert bloom

    Water for agriculture grows food. Water for landscaping grows egos.

  2. Anonymous

    Landscapes are created to improve the human condition, providing places to relax, and a visual atmosphere that improves the human interaction. For an opposite example take a look at the concrete jungle, inhuman, uncaring, hard, heartless, or a front yard with no plants except newspaper and fast food wrappers stuck in the chain link fence and dog poop amongst the empty beer cans.

    Plants also absorb co2, give off oxygen, and generally make people happy. Recycled water on plants increases the water table as the water percolates down, cools the heat of a city, reduces the reflection of heat, and provides a habitat for all kinds of creatures. Lancaster or Fresno may be more to your liking, hot as hell, not a tree in sight, nothing will grow anyway too much concrete. However, no water is being used on plants, there aren’t any. On the other hand you have a point as it relates to lawns and other high water using landscapes.

    • Centro Historico Napoli belies your description of concrete jungles. It is more than hardscape, and it is more than softcape when it comes to people scape. Issue is water and forcing Nature to do your will instead of its own. And the folly of growing rice for food in California.