Friday, April 11, 2008

Conserving Water for an Un-rainy Day

Hard to imagine how a protacted drought would affect life here in the lower Merrimack Valley. We read about conditions elsewhere, where deserts are growing, reservoirs and aquifiers are shrinking. Locally we count on the annual average of 46 inches of moisture that falls as snow and rain to keep things green and growing, conscious of our water usage only when municipalities restrict outdoor water usage during the dry times in July and August.

But only a tiny shift of fortune could greatly alter our profligate water use. Since 40% of the water the average homeowner uses goes to outdoor use, it makes sense to leave well and public water for use as drinking water, using saved rainwater for outdoor purposes.

One way to save a bit of what water will be coming this month in quantity, is to save the rainwater that falls onto the roof and using it to water our gardens, young trees, shrubs and flowers. That free water can easily be directed down the downspout, through a connecting hose and stored in a rain barrel with a spigot for later use in the garden. The barrels are safe, fitted with a screened louver to keep out bugs, and recycled. Retailing for $89, the rain barrels will be less expensive if ordered in quantity, and the Town may also be able to tap into a grant as well. See them online at

Interested? Please leave your name with Jay Smith, West Newbury Conservation agent, (978-363-1100 x 126) if you would like to be included in this worthwhile program.

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