"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids


"Nobody owns water. Drink some and try to keep it." (words inscribed on one of the granite squares in the concrete wall surrounding Tempe Town Lake)

Water is all around us. More than 70% of the earth is covered with water - it is in oceans and seas, rivers and lakes, snow and ice, clouds, and even in the air we breathe.

Water is also one of the most important ingredients in our bodies. Two-thirds of our body weight is made up of water. Water keeps our bodies hydrated and allows all of our organs to function smoothly, as well as cleaning out toxins from our systems. It is vital that our body gets the amount of water it needs. No one can stay alive for more than a few days without water.

Despite the obvious importance of water for our life and health, most of us do not drink enough of it. The average American consumes only 4.6 glasses of water a day, and nearly 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Even mild dehydration will make your body operate with less efficiency. The effects include headaches, decreased coordination, impairment of judgment, and fatigue. In fact, lack of water is said to be the number one cause of daytime fatigue!

You can boost your productivity by drinking more water. Research has shown that a mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory loss, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on a computer screen or printed page. So keep a bottle of water handy while you are working and take frequent water breaks.

You will be healthier and feel better if you drink more water. Begin the day with a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Your body needs it after going all night without any. It is thought that drinking at least five glasses of water daily decreases the risk of certain cancers and other diseases. 8-10 glasses of water a day can significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

Start drinking more water and you could also lose some weight. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. Always reach for a glass of water first, before having a snack. One glass of water shut down the midnight hunger pangs of almost all dieters who participated in a University of Washington study.

During the course of a regular day, water from our bodies is removed when we go to the bathroom and it is exhaled as we breathe. In a healthy adult, the amount of water loss can be 8-10 cups! To replenish this water that is lost, a general rule of thumb is to drink about eight glasses of water per day. A more accurate method is to take your weight and divide it in half. This is how much water in ounces that you should drink each day.

However, keep in mind that the amount of water your body needs can be significantly increased by exercise and sweating, especially in hot dry climates. The summer season is upon us and with triple-digit temperatures our need for water increases even more.

While 90% of juice or milk counts toward your daily water intake, remember that coffee, tea, coke, and alcoholic beverages don't count as water! Drinking these will do more harm than good, because they actually deplete your body's water reserves. The next time you are thirsty, instead of popping open a can of soda, keep in mind that your body is really crying out for water. 11-year-old Melissa Maynard has the right idea. She recently told me that her favorite drink is water. All of us should follow this girl's example!

Did You Know…?

The Israeli army puts lemon juice in their water; this makes them drink more!

The Water Cycle

Water moves in a continuous cycle, from the atmosphere to the oceans and back into the atmosphere. Precipitation in the form of rain, hail, sleet, and snow falls to the earth's surface and runs into lakes, rivers, and oceans. Some water sinks into underground aquifers where it is stored until it is brought to the surface by wells or springs. Surface water is heated by the sun and some of it evaporates, rising high into the atmosphere as water vapor. As the water vapor cools, it turns into tiny droplets of water and creates clouds. Then the precipitation from the clouds falls back to the earth again. This is known as the "hydrological cycle," or water cycle.

Nevertheless, precipitation as a water source can be undependable and sporadic in certain areas. We cannot depend upon precipitation to always occur at just the right place or at just the right time. During periods of plentiful water, people can become apathetic about using water wisely. Then when a drought occurs, an awareness of the need to conserve water comes about.

Arizona residents should always be conscious of the water we use since it is such a precious commodity in the arid Southwest. No matter how much water we have available to us at any given time, it always makes sense to be frugal about our water usage. Especially when you get your water from a well, you don't want to deplete the supply and then not have enough when times get dry.

There are other reasons why people decide to conserve water. Some may do so in order to reduce their monthly water bill. Sometimes drought and a utility company's implementation of a water conservation plan forces homeowners to change their habits. Whatever the motivation is, the results are the same. All it takes is a little discipline, planning, and a small investment in water-efficient equipment for average consumers to become above average water savers.

"When the well is dry, we know the value of water." ~Ben Franklin

Indoor Water-Saving Tips

1. The single most effective water conservation step that can be taken inside the home is to install low flow showerheads which use up to 70% less water.

2. Shower systems are available that allow the water to be turned off while lathering without affecting the temperature.

3. Toilet water use can be reduced by up to 70% with the installation of water efficient or air assisted commodes.

4. Put a half gallon plastic jug of water in the tank of older toilets and cut water use by 20%.

5. Installing water efficient aerators on bathroom and kitchen sinks will use 50% less water.

6. Remember to adjust the water level on your washing machine to match the size of your laundry load.

7. Check for leaks. If your water meter is moving even though all faucets are off, your house most likely has a leak somewhere.

8. Repair leaks immediately! A dripping faucet can waste an estimated 2 gallons per hour.

9. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator, instead of cooling the water by running the faucet.

10. Recycle water that would otherwise go to waste. This might include putting a bucket in the shower or kitchen sink to catch extra water, which can then be used to water plants.

11. Repair or replace the handle on your toilet if it is prone to sticking in the flush position.

12. Fill bathtubs only half full or take showers instead of baths, and take 5-minute showers instead of 20-minute showers.

13. Check toilet tank for leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring to the tank and wait for thirty minutes. If the tank is leaking you will see food coloring in the toilet bowl.

14. Use a dishwasher to wash your dishes. The dishwasher generally uses less water than hand washing does. Wait until the dishwasher has a full load before running it.

15. Insulate hot water pipes so that less water will be wasted waiting for the water to heat up.

16. Install an instant water heater in your sink. This will eliminate having to wait for tap water to heat up.

17. Avoid using the garbage disposal; dispose of food scraps in the garbage or compost pile.

18. Do not flush the toilet unnecessarily or use it as a wastebasket.

19. Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth.

20. Set a good example and teach children water-saving habits at an early age so that conserving water will become a natural part of their lifestyle.

Outdoor Water-Saving Tips

1. Preserve existing trees. Native plants are well adapted to low water conditions.

2. When installing a new lawn or planning landscaping, use plant and grass varieties that are adapted to your site and require little supplemental water once established.

3. Practice Xeriscaping. This method of landscaping uses plants which are native to your area or are naturally drought resistant.

4. Reduce watering frequency. Established lawns, shrubs, and most vegetables and flowers need approximately one inch of water a week. If there has been an inch of rainfall during the week, you don't need to water at all.

5. Give lawns 1.5 inches of water every 5 to 7 days. This will encourage deep root systems and make for healthier, more drought-tolerant grass.

6. Mulch trees, plants, and flowers to retain moisture, prevent weed growth, and eliminate evaporation.

7. Water during the early morning or evening hours. Avoid watering during the heat of the day when evaporation is at its peak.

8. Do not water on windy days or when there is a chance of rain.

9. Avoid sprinklers with fine sprays, which lose a lot of water to wind and evaporation.

10. Utilize soaker hoses or drip irrigation, preferably with timing devices and rain sensors.

11. Keep the water in your yard. Don't water concrete sidewalks or gutters. This may require adjusting your sprinklers or watering some areas by hand.

12. Do not over water. This means watching for puddles or runoff.

13. Use a bucket to wash the car, and when rinsing use a hose with a shut-off nozzle instead of running the hose continuously. This will save 8 gallons of water per minute.

14. Sweep the driveway and sidewalk clean; do not use water from a hose to remove debris.

15. Check all outside faucets, hose connections, and sprinkler valves for leaks, and promptly repair any leaks found.

16. Replace lawn areas with decomposed granite, pea gravel, brick patios, or groundcovers whenever possible. Groundcovers require much less water than grass does.

17. Remove weeds from your lawn. Weeds rob your lawn of moisture and nutrients.

18. Mow as infrequently as possible, and when you do mow set the mower on its highest setting. Cutting grass too short forces the roots to work harder and use more water. Longer grass blades also help shade each other and cut down on evaporation.

19. Hot summer temperatures cause most turf grasses to go dormant and turn brown, so resist the temptation to overwater. Extra watering will not help the grass to "green up."

20. Cover your pool. This significantly reduces evaporation and the need to refill it.

How to Measure Sprinkler Water and Rainfall

Do you want to know how much water your yard has received? Collect rainfall or sprinkler water in a container such as a coffee can. Measure the water's depth with a ruler. Inexpensive gauges are also available at most garden centers.

Recommended Websites

(Official site of the "Water: Use it Wisely" campaign)

(Water Conservation and Efficiency)

(Educating Young People About Water)

(The Water Education Foundation: educational materials and information.)

(Arizona Project WET: Water Education for Teachers)

(Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona)

(United States Drought Monitor)

(Links to Western Water Resources Issues)


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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