BoatUS ANGLER: RecycledFish Stewardship Tips

Conserving Water

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The drainpipe from my sink was clogged last week.  After determining that the clog was well beyond the reach of my meager plumber’s snake, I called the plumber.  Since he couldn’t come out until the next day, I decided to experiment.
 
I place a pot in the sink and captured the water each time I washed my hands.  I ran tests washing my hands with the water running.  True to form, I used about a gallon of water for a good thirty second scrubbing.  I have a low flow head on my kitchen faucet, which is rated at two and a half gallons per minute.  When I wet my hands and shut the water off as I scrubbed, turning the water on to rinse the soap off, I used about a quarter to an eighth of the amount that I would have used had I kept the water running.  If I were to go all Sheldon Cooper on my hands and washed them as often as possible, keeping the water running as I did so, I might use gallons of water.  Quite honestly, I don’t know if Sheldon keeps the water running when he washes his hands.
 
Why does this make a difference:  If water runs directly down the drain without serving a purpose, such as washing one’s hands, cleaning the dishes, or showering, it is going to waste.  All the resources that were required to draw water from the well, river, or reservoir have gone for naught.
 
It is also a question of money.  Water is becoming expensive.  My water bill doubled last month due to an increase from my local utilities district.  A colleague, who lives in San Antonio, informs me that his water bill was over two hundred dollars last month.  When we waste water, we waste money.
 
Why is this important to the fish:  When we waste water, we rob fish of their most important resource.
 
The Central Valley Project, a federal water management project in California, provides irrigation and municipal water to California’s Central Valley.  During a drought year in 2002, an estimated 70,000 Chinook salmon were killed when low flows combined with high temperatures during the annual salmon run.
 
As reported in Fly Fisherman Magazine, flows in the Klamath River are currently at 450 CFS and temperatures are high, a situation that is quite similar to the circumstances the led to the fish kill in 2002.  The Federal Government had planned releases that would increase the flows to 2,400 CFS, which would help the salmon.  “But the Westland Water District (which consists of corporate agricultural interests)…filed an injunction on the court order to release more water, which has led to the halting of the planned flow increase.”
 
It is banal to compare the volume of water that we waste by leaving the faucet running to the sheer volume that is used by agriculture for irrigation.   We all, however, play a role in conserving water.  This is especially true during a drought.   When we all save a little, we collectively save a lot.  In the home, we can start by turning off the faucet when we are washing our hands.  We’d certainly like to see the agricultural interests in the Central Valley find ways for each producer to save a little water.   Perhaps, collectively, they could conserve enough to provide increased flows for the salmon.

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