Water conservation is worth more than just a lowered water bill. According to the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council, 58 North Carolina counties, including Orange County, are currently under abnormally dry conditions. Overuse of water, especially during dry periods, can deplete groundwater resources and lead to further shortages.
But all is not lost for our water – there is a simple way to both reduce water consumption and to decrease runoff, which can carry pollutants into the water supply. Use a rain barrel.
Rain barrels provide a dual function, trapping water that would otherwise become runoff and using this water to irrigate plants. The water returns to the groundwater supply, helping replenish this resource, rather than becoming pollutant-carrying runoff. Instead of watering your garden with potable water that you must pay for, with a rain barrel, you use free water that runs off from your roof. Barrels can be made easily from old trash cans or other bins.
If you’re interested in making a rain barrel, but don’t want to go at it on your own in the garage, we will be holding a make-your-own rain barrel workshop at Hope Gardens, at 2200 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, this Saturday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to noon. We encourage participants to bring their own old trash cans or recycling bins, but we will provide a few for those who do not have any old bins.
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Even if you choose not to use a rain barrel, other measures can greatly diminish water use. Installing low-flush toilets can save anywhere from 1 to 3 gallons of water per flush, and low-flow showerheads and front-loading washing machines can similarly reduce water consumption. In a state prone to droughts and water contamination, conservation of water is a necessary and prudent measure for every household.
Simone Speizer, Jenny Liu, Lena Hu, Anne Carlestein, and Yifei Wang
East Chapel Hill High School