Although water is life, we too often take it for granted.
Minnesota has always been blessed with an abundance of water, above and below the ground. But we have learned that the pollution of our lakes, rivers and wells can harm us and wildlife.
This summer, we are reminded that it is not just about water quality, but an adequate supply of water that we cannot take for granted.
The long and severe drought makes recreation on lakes and rivers more difficult. But more importantly, it puts a strain on our water supplies.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has asked cities to develop water conservation plans, and Mankato, North Mankato and other communities in the region have set targets for reducing water use. They encouraged residents to take action to help, but often the goals of reducing water consumption were not met.
Both cities have asked residents to water lawns and gardens on certain days and take other steps to reduce their water use.
It is clear that we have not done enough.
For most people, watering lawns is the primary source of water use. We all need to keep adjusting our concept of a perfect lawn. Lawns can turn brown without causing permanent damage. Lawns should be left a little long and shaggy, and not mowed low where they require more watering to stay green.
The growing impetus for more native plants and pollinator plants is a perfect match for lower water use in the future. Native deep-rooted plants find sufficient water in the worst droughts and benefit pollinators and other insects and birds.
There are a variety of other easy steps residents can take to reduce their water use now and in the future that don’t require sacrifice and save money:
Clean and peel the vegetables in a bowl of water, not under running water. Only operate the dishwasher when it is full. Do full loads of laundry.
Only use the garbage disposal when necessary. Take short showers rather than baths. Fix a leaky toilet (add 12 drops of food coloring to the tank, and if the color appears in the bowl an hour later, your toilet is leaking). Turn off the water to brush your teeth.
It is difficult for businesses that need to use large amounts of water to simply reduce without harming their business and employees. But companies must continue to look for other ways to reduce and reuse water where possible.
This current drought will end, but it could be a multi-year event. Reducing water consumption helps our community and saves us money.
Even when this drought passes, climate change increases the likelihood that we will see more frequent and more severe droughts to come. Taking gradual and continuous action to reduce water use in homes and businesses is something we all have a vested interest in.
– Mankato Free Press, August 17