Almost daily, headlines about drought conditions seem to multiply. Water scarcity and drought are global concerns. The current population has a duty to help minimize the effect of droughts and to prevent them when possible. However, they must ask what exactly defines drought conditions, and what consumers and water treatment professionals and dealers can do to limit their consequences?
According to the American Red Cross website, four types of drought are possible:
- Meteorological — when an area gets less rain than typical for the region
- Agricultural — when the available moisture is not ample enough for the crop
- Hydrological — when surface and ground waters are below typical ranges
- Socioeconomic — when the clean supply does not meet the demand
Populations have little direct control over meteorological drought. Unfortunately, humans cannot control the weather, but they can help prevent or minimize the effects of the other three types through conservation, smart irrigation technology and charitable giving.
While water conservation is paramount if a region, state or city is under drought conditions, making conservation a habit is also recommended. Habitual water conservation may help prevent or lessen the effects of hydrological drought by aiding in keeping these resources in their normal ranges. However, if the government in an area opts to impose water restriction, these tips and suggestions may be required of the population and businesses.
General rules include repairing leaks or dripping faucets immediately to prevent wasted water. Also, when using water, do not pour it down the drain if it can be used for another purpose, such as watering a plant, soaking pots and pans, or adding it to a birdbath. Other efforts indoors and outdoors can be implemented to safeguard this resource.
When talking with clients in drought-prone areas, dealers and treatment professionals can educate them about ways to conserve water and ultimately save money. Activities in the kitchen are a good starting point. Only run an automatic dishwasher when it is full, and turn the faucet off while hand washing dishes. Garbage disposals often use a large amount of water, so in their place, start a compost pile for food waste. According to ready.gov, choosing appliances that are energy and water efficient is another effective conservation option.
In the bathroom, low-flow toilets and ultra-low-flow shower heads are effective at reducing water use and can become part of the dealer’s product portfolio. Installing a toilet displacement device will also decrease the amount of water used to flush a toilet. Be sure to use a 1-gallon plastic jug of water to do this, not a brick. A brick may break apart, and the pieces could damage the plumbing. Some people and facilities harvest rainwater to use for flushing toilets instead of using drinking-quality water for this purpose. Other tips include taking shorter showers; placing a bucket in the shower to collect excess water for plants; and turning off the water during teeth brushing, face washing and shaving.
Most people must wash a car and water a lawn. If water shortage is a danger, homeowners and businesses can take steps to minimize the water required while continuing these activities. For at-home car washing, use a nozzle on the hose that keeps the water from flowing all the time. Better still, use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
Lawn care should also be carefully considered at the business location and for clients who are homeowners. Keep the grass longer to encourage deeper root depths, shade the root system and hold moisture. Make sure that all sprinklers work properly and that they land on grass or plants, not sidewalks and roadways. Avoid over-watering a lawn, which typically only needs about an inch of water each week during most of the year. When watering, do it in several short sessions to allow time for the moisture to be absorbed. Larger scale irrigation systems require even more thought and planning.
Agricultural and hydrological drought can both be minimized by smart irrigation practices by homeowners, business owners and especially farmers. For home and business owners, irrigation controllers labeled with WaterSense are part of a partnership program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help decrease and optimize the amount of water used for landscaping. These systems monitor local weather and landscape conditions to determine when to water and for how long.
For larger agricultural irrigation needs, today’s technology has the ability to be programmed to monitor conditions and precisely water a specified crop for the optimum amount of time. While costly, some monitor specifics such as relative humidity, solar radiation, rainfall and wind speeds. Farmers can be as precise as financially feasible to conserve water and provide the best growth conditions for their crops.
Socioeconomic drought is more prevalent in developing nations, but according to wvtf.org/post/sercaps-indoor-plumbing-challenge, even in the U.S., “more than 500,000 households [are] without complete indoor plumbing.” On July 28, 2010, the United Nations recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights. However, in many low-economic areas, the funds and infrastructure are not available to provide safe, clean water.
People can help minimize this type of drought, too. Everyone can help through charitable giving and volunteer work with organizations that dig wells and provide treatment systems for villages, cities and other areas that do not have access to clean water for drinking and bathing. Many charities work tirelessly to provide access to water. Among them are:
Some droughts can be managed by the proper use of this valuable resource. Through appropriate use and educating their clients, water dealers and treatment professionals can help preserve the freshwater supply. As the global population grows, water demand will continue to increase, so humans’ roles as water stewards must be embraced today.