The drought is over.
That’s the word from Georgia’s top environmental officials. After years of water restrictions and conservation programs, water levels across the state appear to be getting back to normal.
The state climatologist says Georgia experienced the wettest spring season on record in 115 years. In fact, Governor Sonny Perdue says heavy rainfall in recent months helped the entire state emerge from the worst drought categories, prompting restrictions on outdoor water use to be lifted for the first time since 2006.
So, should we still conserve water? Absolutely.
Why should we conserve water?
There are many good reasons to conserve water.
Water conservation can help meet future needs.
Water is a precious resource – our lives depend on it. In Georgia, the average consumption (residential, commercial and industrial, not agricultural) is 168 gallons per day, 10% higher than the national average of 153 gallons a day. An adult needs less than a gallon per day for drinking purposes, but 101 gallons per day are used in residential applications.
Georgia’s population growth is among the most rapid in the nation. In the last decade, the state’s population has increased by more than 1.7 million. If current trends continue, Georgia’s population will reach 11.9 million in 2025. A doubling of demand for water over the next twenty years is highly probable. Given that drought-prone Georgia already uses a relatively high share of its land for residential purposes, future population growth will have a meaningful impact upon the supply of fresh water. As more and more faucets drain the aquifers, or underground reservoirs, urban sprawl paves over the land and short-circuits its absorption properties. Georgia’s fast-growing cities face water shortages by 2020 unless local utilities find new supplies.
Saving water will save you money.
Conserving water saves you money! Not only will your water bill go down, but as you heat less water, your gas or energy bill will also decline. If your whole community conserves, you will also pay less fees for water-related services. Water conserving communities will not need to pay as much to develop new supplies and expand or upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure.
The City of Atlanta has approved a 12.5% rate increase effective July 1, 2009 and another 12% increase in 2010.
Approved Water and Sewer Rates City of Atlanta
Water conservation helps preserve the environment.
Quite simply, water is the essential component of all life. It comprises 70% of the Earth’s surface and 75% of the human body. Of that 70% of surface water, only 1% is actually drinkable. Water is needed to keep the ecosystem in balance. Clouds need water to make rain. Plants need water to grow. Animals depend on plants for the oxygen they produce and the food they provide. When one element of the chain is compromised, the entire system is thrown out of whack. Roughly 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming or hosting aquatic life. 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are discharged into US waters annually.
There are many obvious reasons for us to protect our water supply, but the most important point to remember is that water is absolutely essential to all living things. Educate yourself, dedicate yourself, and you can make a difference.
A significant level of water conservation can be achieved without major changes in lifestyle. Simply watering landscapes properly and utilizing efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances in the home can reduce the per-capita water use by 25 percent.
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