Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bob Dunning: Fight the drought, start in the shower


From page A2 | March 30, 2014 |

My good friend Clyde Froehlich, who knows a thing or two about water conservation, took time out of his busy schedule a while back to pen a piece in this very newspaper offering tips on how we can all beat this never-ending drought.
Fortunately, Clyde’s sound advice does not include an admonition that we all plant cactus, for which I am everlastingly grateful. I love cacti as much as the next guy, but they really do belong in Arizona, not Northern California.
And aren’t you glad, as news reports earlier this year showed boat slips on dry ground at Folsom Lake and the city of Atlantis rising from the depths of what used to be Lake Shasta, that we still rely on well water to nourish our beautiful town?
This, despite the fact the voters of Davis made the formal decision last March to officially start tapping the Sacramento River for most of our water needs.
Even though residential water use pales in comparison to industrial and agricultural use, we’re all being asked to do our part.
It seems two of the biggest areas of water use for most of us are taking a shower and watering the lawn. Clyde has three short words of advice to deal with the former: “Take shorter showers.”
I might add to that: Take fewer showers. If we’re really in an extreme drought that threatens the very future of California, how horrible would it be if we showered only six days a week instead of seven? Boom, an instant 14.3 percent savings, even if we don’t shorten the length of our showers.
Companies could accommodate this plan by assigning which employees would come to work unshowered on which days and provide partitions to separate them from their fellow workers.
Clyde also suggests we take “military showers,” which involves getting wet, turning off the water, lathering up, rinsing off and getting out of the shower. Sixty seconds, tops.
Given that Davis is not exactly a military town and citizens might react negatively to such a designation, may I politely suggest we call this form of bathing a “Peace Corps shower,” which is essentially the same thing.
But wait, there’s an even better way to accomplish our goals. After disabling your expensive front lawn sprinkler “system,” buy one of those old-fashioned moveable sprinklers from the local hardware store and mount it on an 8-foot ladder that you also bought from the local hardware store.
Gather the family on the front lawn under the sprinkler, turn on the water, have everyone lather up, rinse off and get ready to start the day. Meanwhile, you just watered your lawn with gray water, or whatever color the water was when it rolled off your collective bodies and onto the ground.
Rather than relax the rules on public nudity to help implement this plan, just put everyone on your block on the honor system, and, if needs be, form a Neighborhood Don’t Watch committee.
Clyde makes an excellent suggestion that we’ve already implemented in our home when he points out how stupid it is to allow shower water to go down the drain while you’re waiting for the water to warm up.
I don’t know about you, but our home’s hot water heater is apparently located in Dixon. If we want to take a warm shower at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, we need to turn the water on at 6 p.m. Sunday night.
Clyde’s solution is simple: put a pot or a pan or a washtub or whatever reasonably fits in your shower to catch the water that runs while you’re waiting to get in and use that perfectly clean water somewhere else.
Better yet if you have a shower/tub combination. In that case, the tub can catch the water for you, but you’ll still need a bucket to scoop it out to water the petunias.
Thanks to Clyde, I’m ready to go mano-a-mano with this drought. I sincerely hope you are, too.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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