4-Nov-08 10:00 PM CST
Southern U.S. Cities Could Save $100-million-plus by Increasing Water Conservation Measures
If Columbia, S.C., adopted more stringent water conservation measures, it could save up to $100 million and reduce consumption by as much as 30 percent.
That’s the consensus of a report released Oct. 22 by American Rivers, a national river conservation group that studied the potential effects of aggressive water-conservation efforts on four Southeastern U.S. cities: Columbia, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta and Raleigh, N.C.
In addition to Columbia’s possible savings of up to 27 million gallons a day, the report’s authors concluded that Atlanta could save 210 million gallons of water a day, Charlotte 47 million and Raleigh 20 million by adopting nine steps that immediately could ease water demand: stop leaks; price water correctly; meter all water users; retrofit buildings with water-efficient fixtures; landscape to minimize water waste; increase public understanding of the issue; build smart; return water to rivers; and involve water users in decision making.
“Imagine finding a brand-new source of water in the Southeast — a hidden lake or aquifer that could provide water to millions,” American Rivers president Rebecca Wodder says in a news release. “This is the promise of water efficiency. By improving how we use and manage water, we can tap a brand-new source of supply.”
The issue of water conservation will only intensify over time, conservationists warn, as larger metropolitan areas such as Atlanta expand and stress available supplies. A drought that has gripped much of South Carolina and other parts of the Southeast recently has only made the message more relevant.
Just days ago, authorities in Clemson told The Associated Press that a lake bordering South Carolina and Georgia has dropped to an all-time low. And with Atlanta continuing to grow, both South Carolina and Tennessee officials are concerned that the Georgia capital might look to either the Savannah or Tennessee rivers in the future. Already, Georgia, Alabama and Florida have fought over how much water can be stored in Georgia lakes.
But water conservation isn’t limited to individuals or government entities.
In Spartanburg, the data company QS/1 built a water efficient building certified under the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines. Features of the building include a 20,000-gallon cistern underneath it that collects rainwater for landscaping. QS/1 says that only once since the building was completed in 2004 has the company used potable city water for its outdoor irrigation.
“Both climate change and growing electricity demand are bringing unprecedented challenges to our rivers and water supply,” John Ramsburgh, director of the South Carolina Sierra Club, says in a letter. “We are in the midst of the worst drought in the state’s history.”
“As with energy, water efficiency is the cheapest, fastest and cleanest way to protect and manage our water resources,” Ramsburgh says. “New dams, by contrast, are not the answer to our water problems. Dams are expensive, destructive and shortsighted. Water efficiency, on the other hand, is cost effective, proven and timely.”
For Wodder, enacting strong water conservation measures is less about preparing for a future that could occur than realizing that future now. “Clean water is the lifeblood of South Carolina’s economy,” she says. “We have a responsibility to manage our water wisely for today’s communities and future generations.”
To read the full report and learn more about what you can do to better conserve water, go to americanrivers.org/waterefficiencyreport.
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Source: Lawn and Landscape
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Tags: Water Conservation
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