I was listening to WNPR radio show "Fresh Air" this morning and heard Terri Gross' interview of Charles Fishman the author of a new book called The Big Thirst, The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. I had to agree with Mr. Fishman's point of view that the golden age of water (defined as: cheap, abundant and safe water) is coming to an end here in the US and that it is time to get creative on ways to save and re-use this limited natural resource as well as take a fresh look at ways to maximize our water resources for the future.
Especially interesting to me were several examples of US cities and industry who have focused on stretching their water resources:
1- City of Las Vegas, NV - Homeowners are incentivized to remove their turf lawns to the tune of $40,000/acre because it is cheaper to pay the homeowner to remove their lawn and re-plant using xeriscaping (native plants that use minimal water resources) than it is to capture and treat for re-use water that would be used for lawn watering in a city that was built in a dessert.
2- Orlando, FL - 25 years ago, Orlando, Florida mandated a that gray water systems be installed in new construction. Orlando uses almost as much gray water as potable water, but have not had to pay to treat the gray water that is used for lawn watering and car washing.
3- IBM Corporation - Vermont. Over the past 10 years, IBM evaluated their factory building and costs associated with heating/air conditioning systems. After careful study, they re-plumbed their building to maximize the efficiency of their manufacturing process by coordinating the needs of the building and manufacturing processes with change in water temperatures as the water flows through the building. The money they have saved by re-plumbing their building adds to their ability for their products to be competitive.
It is time to take a fresh look at how we do things so that we can maximize our water resources.