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Saving water

Jun 24, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

It's easy, if everyone does it

Those of us who live in the requested water conservation areas ought to try to comply. It's the right thing to do. Fotrunately, conservation isn't that difficult.

When confronted with the notion of conserving, many people assume it's going to be an onerous task akin to going hungry or walking to work in the winter without a coat.

The fact is, even if you cut out your municipal water consumption entirely, it wouldn't amount to enough savings -- by itself. And that's not the point of conservation, anyway. Conservation and deprivation are not synonymous.

The point, rather, is the strength of numbers. Let's suppose you are a single person living in a house, and you consume an average of 100 gallons of water a day. In a dogged response to a conservation request, you cut your water consumption to one gallon a day. You stink, your clothes are dirty, your lawn dries up, and you and the cat feel thirsty all the time.

No one else in your neighborhood is bothered to conserve, but you are doing your duty, by gosh. Congratulations. You've made yourself miserable without managing to have any measurable effect on the water problem at all.

Now let's suppose you are a resident of either Lander or Riverton and the surrounding areas, one of perhaps 20,000 people. Rather than cutting your water consumption by 98 percent, you find an easy way to cut it by, say, 5 percent. That's five gallons saved per day. And, while we're supposing, let's imagine that all 19,999 of your fellow citizens do the same thing.

If that happened, we'd really be getting somewhere. Instead of you saving 98 gallons of water a day, you and your community members would be saving 100,000 gallons a day. That's the strength of numbers. We might think we're something special, but when it comes to conservation we aren't. It only works when lots of people do it, and if lots of people do it, then it doesn't take that much sacrifice from any one of them.

Here are some things to try: If you usually take a 10 minute shower every morning, try taking an 8 1/2-minute shower instead. If you run the lawn sprinklers for an hour every afternoon, try running them for 40 minutes just after sunset. The next time you finish a big jar of peanut butter, wash it out, fill it with water, put the lid back on and put it into your toilet tank. If you usually do two medium-sized loads of laundry a week try doing one large load every four days.

Not one of those things would bring any noticeable hardship on any of us. Done together, however, they could add up to more than enough water conservation to keep our municipal supply at healthy levels levels all summer.

Sacrifices can be big or small. In this case, a small effort is all that's required -- so long as we make it together.

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