If your water bill from trying to save your lawn over this brutal summer wasn't enough to persuade you to save water, the Groundwater Foundation has plenty of other reasons.
The national nonprofit is based in Lincoln, Nebraska, which, like McCook, faced mandatory water restrictions this summer.
The foundation noted, however, that by the last week of September, Lincoln continued to use more than 50 million gallons of water a day, and we doubt McCook residents did much better at conservation.
Like the Groundwater Foundation, we urge residents to use water wisely during this continuing drought, preserving this finite resource vital for life and livelihood. Unlike Lincoln itself, however, McCook residents have additional reason to be concerned, living in ground zero for a legal battle with Kansas over Republican River water.
Some common-sense suggestions:
Irrigate wisely -- Be wise, irrigate only during the cooler parts of the day (early morning or late evening). Most grass varieties require minimal watering (1 inch of water a week).
Don't let it run -- Many of us have the bad habit of letting the faucet run while wait for the shower to warm up, while we brush our teeth, or while waiting for a cold glass of water. Keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator or turning the faucet off while we brush our teeth can save several gallons of water each day! It's simple really!
Fix the drip -- There is no such thing as a little drip. A leaky faucet with a drip of just 1/16 of an inch in diameter can waste 10 gallons of water every day. You can fix that drip by replacing worn washers. Even worse than the leaky faucet is the silent toilet bowl leak. It's probably the single greatest water waster in homes. A leak of one gallon every 24 minutes--an average amount--totals 2.5 gallons per hour or 60 gallons per day! To check your toilet for a leak, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait. If the color appears in the bowl, then there's a leak. Often these leaks can be fixed with a few minor adjustments, cleaning calcium deposits from the toilet ball in the tank, or by replacing worn valves.
Close the hose -- Letting the garden hose run faster or longer than necessary while we water the lawn or wash the car often becomes a careless and wasteful habit. A ½-inch garden hose under normal water pressure pours out more than 600 gallons of water per hour and a ¾ inch hose delivers almost 1,900 gallons in the same length of time.
The 5-minute challenge -- A quick shower uses around 20-30 gallons less water than a bath. Challenge yourself and your family members to take 5 minute showers. Use a kitchen timer to keep track. Install a water-saving showerhead for additional savings.
For more information, visit www.groundwater.org.