October 24, 2007
Governor, DNR urge voluntary water conservation
As the severe drought lingers, Gov. Mark Sanford is encouraging all South Carolinians to voluntarily conserve water, "As this situation continues, we believe it's incredibly important for all South Carolinians to take individual initiative in doing what they can to conserve water. We think these conservation recommendations from DNR are a good step toward that end, and would urge citizens to do what they can at home or at work to impact their own water usage."
State and local representatives from the South Carolina Drought Response Committee upgraded the drought level to severe for all counties except Beaufort and Jasper on Sept. 5. Drought conditions have continued to deteriorate with significant impacts to most of the streams, lakes, and groundwater. According to the SC Department of Natural Resources’ Hydrology Office, 14 of the 17 monitored streams are now at the extreme drought level. Some lakes have declined to levels lower than during the 1998-2002 drought. Over most of the state, rainfall during all months this year except June has been below normal, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ State Climatology Office. The deficit is as much as 16 inches in some locations, while many areas experienced the driest ever July to September.
This week’s forecast calls for a widespread rain event, however, it will only provide temporary relief, according to state climatologist Hope Mizzell. "We need many months of normal to above normal rainfall and unfortunately that is not expected. National forecasters are predicting a drier than normal fall and winter due to the developing La Nina."
With little relief on the horizon, Mizzell urges South Carolinians to now begin voluntary conservation measures. "All water users from the local water systems to the individual homeowner are encouraged to voluntarily conserve water. If we all work together now, we can hopefully avoid more stringent restrictions if the drought does continue."
Contact State Climatologist Hope Mizzell at (803) 734-9568 in Columbia for more information about the ongoing drought.
DNR offers these tips for water conservation in and around your home.
CONSERVE WATER IN THE HOUSE:
- Install a water-efficient showerhead (2.5 gallons or less per minute).
- Take shorter showers.
- Use less water in the bathtub. Filling the tub uses about 50 gallons of water. Try bathing in about 10 gallons. Plug the tub when you shower to see how much water is just going down the drain.
- When you buy a new toilet, purchase a low flow model (1.6 gallons or less per flush).
- Check your toilet for "silent" leaks by placing a little food coloring in the tank and seeing if it leaks into the bowl.
- Avoid using the toilet as a trash basket for facial tissues and similar items. Each flush uses 5 to 7 gallons of water.
- Turn off water while brushing teeth and shaving.
- Reduce the use of garbage disposals, which use as much as 2 gallons of water per minute, by peeling vegetables, eggs and other foods on newspapers. Wrap the food waste and dispose of it with the trash. Or, use food waste in a garden compost pile.
- Keep a gallon of drinking water in the refrigerator rather than running the tap for cold water.
- Run your washing machine with a full load of clothes. Match your washer’s load selector to each load size. Wash with warm water instead of hot, rinse with cold water instead of warm. Wash with cold water when you can. (When possible) hang your wash out to dry.
- Buy an energy-saving washing machine. Buy an Energy Star model and save water and electricity.
- Use a front-loading washing machine. The newest innovation in washers is the front-loading washing machine. These save even more water and electricity.
- Wash only full loads of dishes in dishwasher. A dishwasher uses about 14 gallons of water per load.
- Teach children to turn water faucets off tightly after use.
CONSERVE WATER OUTSIDE THE HOUSE:
- Use drought-tolerant plants and grasses for landscaping and reduce grass-covered areas.
- Cut your grass at least three inches high to shade the roots, making it more drought-tolerant; keep your mower sharp for the healthiest grass.
- Water yards wisely. Remember that landscaping is most likely your number one user of water. Your lawn and plants benefit most from slow, thorough and infrequent watering. Minimize evaporation by watering in the early morning or evening.
- Mulch to retain water. Spread leaves, lawn clippings, or landscaping tarps around plants. Mulching also controls weeds that compete with garden plants for water.
- Install a drip-irrigation water system (with a timer is even better) for valuable plants.
- Try to water only in the evening or very early morning to minimize evaporation.
- If you use porous pavement (gravel is a good example) instead of asphalt for driveways and walkways, the rain can recharge groundwater supplies instead of running off and contributing to erosion.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off your driveway or sidewalk.
- Wash your car less often or wash it at a car wash where they clean and recycle the water. If you do wash your car at home, use a bucket of soapy water rather than running the hose. Keep a spring-loaded nozzle on the hose.
DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.