I attended the Water Conservation and Springs Protection presentation by Stacie Greco, Water Conservation Coordinator for Alachua County Environmental Protection on August 3, 2016 at the New Century Women’s Club in High Springs, FL and want to share information with you that I found noteworthy and new. There were approximately 10 other citizens there like myself trying to learn how to help protect our water supply. I was happy to learn that Alachua County is active in working with the City of Gainesville to help monitor, mitigate and guide them with the planning of new businesses and industries as they set up shops that affect not only our water quality, but our limited and dwindling supply of it.
However, the County does not have any jurisdiction on monitoring commercial farming operations, which are the main users and polluters of our pristine Spring Water. Farms are regulated by Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that only provide guidelines for water use and pollution generation via Best Management Practices. There is not as much regulatory authority or oversight for the largest culprits affecting our water supply, which is driven by our own food consumption. For example, residents of Columbia County, FL are upset because of land conservation related damages and pollution to the Ichetucknee watershed caused by a new JTC Poultry Farm housing 312,000 chickens.
After the meeting we received a tour of the High Springs Museum that contained an impressive reconstruction of a local underwater cave system mapped by locals at Extreme Exposure and related local artwork for sale. The Smithsonian Museum is also hosting a Water Ways exhibit there to celebrate and educate the month of August as National Water Quality Month. I learned very interesting statistics about consumer driven water use like how much water it takes to make products we use or eat every day.
WATER FOOTPRINT OF FOOD
- 1 apple 18 gallons
- 1 pound of rice 449 gallons
- 1 pound of chicken 468 gallons
- 1 pound of cheese 600 gallons
- 1 pound of beef 1,799 gallons
- 1 pound of chocolate 3,170 gallons
The more we eat, the more water we use, so let’s eat sustainably:
- Educate yourself- why eat local sustainable food
- Shop sustainable – pledge one item at a time
- Ask questions – pesticides and animal food used
- Reduce your meat consumption – 5.5 oz/day
- Eat seasonally – buy local
- Grow your own – bypass the industrial system
- Cook – remove the middle man
- Take back the tap – avoid plastic leaching
- Spread the word – contact local officials
- Enjoy! – safe family farmer food
The exhibit said that “Agriculture, and its often heavy use of irrigation, is one of the largest consumers of freshwater in the US. In 2015, the US Geological Survey reported that irrigation accounted for about 38% of freshwater withdrawals. About 50% of the water used for irrigation is reusable. Much water is lost to evaporation and water leaks.”
Most of the water we consume is used outdoors for irrigation so Alachua County has adopted a new landscape irrigation efficiency code to promote water conservation and improve water quality:
- Stopped the practice of irrigation on County properties;
- Enacted landscape irrigation efficiency codes that require irrigation professionals installing irrigation systems to register their businesses;
- Requiring all new irrigation systems (commercial/residential) installed or modified in unincorporated Alachua County to be approved and inspected.
For residents and businesses needing to apply water to their lawn/landscape, they may do so only when needed (plants are stressed) before 10am and after 4pm by following this schedule:
|Summer (Mar-Nov)||Winter (Nov-Mar)|
|Odd House #||Wed, Sat||Sat|
|Even House #||Thur, Sun||Sun|
To report abuse/violations: 352-264-6800
Learn more about outside water use restrictions visit: http://alachuacounty.us/Depts/EPD/WaterResources/WaterConservation/Pages/Irrigation-Restrictions.aspx and St. Johns River Water Management District at http://www.sjrwmd.com/wateringrestrictions/
The second largest source of unnecessary water use happens inside due to hidden water leaks from the toilet. To help minimize unnecessary water loss in the home, the County recommends (and provides) putting a dye tablet into the toilet tank. If the toilet is leaking then the dye will seep from the back of the tank into the commode bowl where it will be apparent. I tested the one given to me at the meeting but did not have a leak.
Thank you for putting effort, time and consideration into social leadership.