I was having a discussion with a friend the other day and, as I passed some large, lush Atlanta lawns, I commented about how wasteful it is to water lawns. The friend challenged me with why it mattered when there wasn’t a drought. And I was a bit flabbergasted in giving a coherent answer. Sure, I remember what I was told about conserving water, but I couldn’t remember exactly why we had to conserve when it was a renewable resource.
So, if you are like me (or you are my friend who also was inquiring) here is what I found.
Why Conserve Water
- Only 1% of the world’s water is usable by humans. It may be a renewable resource, but it is also a very limited renewable resource.
- Earth’s largest aquifer, the Ogalalla Aquifer, is located under the U.S. Midwest. Our rampant water use has this and many other aquifer’s being pumped faster than they are being naturally replenished. As a result, water levels are decreasing and we are on track to deplete these aquifers. We could avoid this with conservation.
- In the US, we often increase consumption of water in the summer. Yet, most drought seasons start in the late summer/early fall. Therefore, we go into drought season with vastly reduced water levels. We could avoid this with conservation.
- It takes energy to process and treat water. So, the less that is needed to be process and treated and the more we conserve, the less energy we use.
And as our population grows, so does the need for water. The problem is we are already using too much of it faster than it can be replenished, drought season or not. So the problem isn’t going to get any better by praying on the steps of the Capital for rain. It will require conservation and efficiency.
Environmental Impact of Lawn Maintenance
- 30% of all water use in Eastern US is from lawn maintenance. In the West — 60%.
- 50% of water used in lawn maintenance is wasted — it has no benefit to the lawn — due to improper application timing and dosage.
Why You Shouldn’t Water your Lawn
For a resource that is so limited and requiring so much energy to artificially renew it seems rather silly to waste that limited resource on a pretty green lawn. Now I’m sure asking society to stop watering their lawn is seen as an extremist perspective — especially having experienced the very request being made during Atlanta’s record low water levels for the past three years and the following fighting over the resource (screw Florida and the river mussels!).
So I ask: outside of pride (I deserve a green lawn!) and vanity (look how green and lush my lawn is!), is there a good reason for using this limited resource for lawn maintenance more than what is provided by natural precipitation?