Water Wise: The need to conserve is real

We all need water, but the days of all-day sprinkling and luxurious showers may be a thing of the past — at least until fall. Water districts have put out the word that conservation is now critical. As reported on page A1, no one is crying emergency yet, but the yellow flag of caution could turn into the red flag of restriction if the tandem “highs” continue: water use and temperatures.

In past years’ water alerts, there has been an all-too-familiar scene around the community: In the heat of the day, large irrigation spigots shooting jets of water onto lawns.

Homeowners, public agencies and businesses can all do their part to conserve, as can growers, but it is also true that conservation is good for the economy by preserving as much of the resource as possible for the fruit growers.

Orchardists, as with most business owners, already employ conservation tactics because they understand the need to cut costs and protect the resource. But the reality with the Hood River County pear crop, so vital to the economy, is that this time of year the pears need water. Growers are being urged to water only when and where they need to, but the Bartletts, Anjous and other signature crops need plenty of water this time of year to maximize the fruit’s development.

No one is saying don’t use water; just don’t waste it. Short of official curtailments by water purveyors, little can be done to enforce water waste by residential or business consumers.

The same can be said of public agencies, but the difference is that the community, as taxpayers, can make clear their expectations that large water users should comply with tenets of basic conservation.

These include avoiding watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Homeowners should do the same.

Granted, many large irrigation systems are set on timers, or there could be work schedule issues involved in changing schedules for turning on spigots or moving pipes.

We urge schools, parks, the golf courses, and others who are responsible for keeping green large expanses of lawn to take reasonable steps toward watering in the cooler, shaded times of the day. There is the fiscal savings from putting down water earlier or later in the day; these can balance the impacts of having to make the changes.

As Jer Camarata of Farmers Irrigation District said, “If we can get everyone to work together as a community it’s going to be better for everyone.”


Courtesy of Oregon State University Extension Service, here are key ways to conserve water.

n Outdoor water use accounts for almost half the water used by the American home, and thus provides the greatest single opportunity for conserving.

Water early in the morning before 10 a.m. Watering in the heat of the day allows the water to evaporate and watering late in the day may promote fungus and other lawn diseases.

n Depending on the weather, it’s generally better to water once a week and provide 1 inch to 1.25 inches of water. (If it’s hot, you might have to water more often.)

n Do not mow lawns too short; taller grass requires less water. Consider letting your lawn brown out. It will come back.

n Use low-volume shower heads. They are inexpensive and can pay for themselves in water, sewer and energy savings in less than a year. For a 5-minute shower they can reduce water usage from some 40 gallons to 12 to 15 gallons.

n Flush only when needed. Do not use the toilet as a trash can. Put a water displacement device inside the toilet tank. Check for leaks.

n Do only full loads in clothes and dish washers; choose a water-saving model.

n Keep a container of cool drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the faucet. Leave the water off when brushing your teeth or shaving.

In washing the car, rinse once, wash from bucket, rinse quickly again. Be sure to use a shut-off nozzle on your hose.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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