April is Water Conservation Month so turn off that tap (and use these tips)!

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I’d like to know who decided to bestow the honor on April. It must have been some modern day meteorologist. More likely is was an employee of the local water department (who I’m sure got to park in the Employee of the Month parking space as a reward) that thought it’d be a good promo for marketing water saving strategies. Surely a staffer with a creative mind seeking a way to relieve the strain citizens watering habits put on our water resources at the onset of spring. Non-natives still believe the old school rhyme, come on, we all know it: "April showers bring May flowers"; a familiar ditty provided to revive brain cells as dormant as tulip bulbs in winter. Those transplants water, water, water (gasp) with potable water, you know the drinking kind (double gasp)! It’s a cryin’ shame that most Tampa residents still don’t have a clue what a water catchment system is (for those un-hip readers, a translation: rain barrels or, for the really serious, cisterns).

So what will 2010 have in store? We’ll just have to wait and see. The old timers will tell you that the rainy season used to start in May; those of us with more recent residency would say June, for sure. Last year, after the desert of May (remember a whopping 0.15 in.) Tampa’s rainfall jumped way up to 3.98 in. and kept us soggy until October.

So, what’s my point you again are wondering?  A few: save, save, save.

  • Save money! Calculating how much money your particular household will save is difficult to accurately predict. It depends on your household’s water usage.

  • Typical City of Tampa water customers average 5ccf’s (ccf = 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons). Consider this as well, back in 2007 the City passed Resolution 2007-753, the water utility rate 5 year plan, under which the rates increase every year (2008: 11.00%, 2009:14.00%, 2010: 18.00%, 2011:14.00%, 2012:15.00%) but before you drop a line to your council person, (that’s you Mr./Ms. Activist) take a look at the graph, the City’s rates are still lower than the unfortunates who live elsewhere).

  • Save every drop of our most precious resource. Just ask those who went without when the farmers saved their crops this winter. No daily showers, no hourly hand washing (good bye hygiene, hello H1N1). If you think I’m exaggerating, just ask the residents of Orme, TN or anyone who lives in a severe drought region (some surprising places, like Wisconsin?!).  Hell we are already engaged in water wars here. Florida v. Georgia doesn’t just refer to the big game.

  • Fix those pesky leaks around the house and don’t forget to check the hose bib outside. Learn to read your water meter. If the numbers are different after a period of time when no water has been used, you have a leak. Check out this cool leak calculator.

  • Replace your old toilet with a low water usage one and replace worn or poorly-fitting toilet flappers, which can waste up to 200 gallons a day. Either of those projects are pretty easy do it yourself. Go to one of the DIY sites to see how, and new ones are pretty cheap even without a rebate (the ones that before funding cuts were available from local water utilities).

  • Save your gardens! Get a rain barrel or two even a cistern. A standard issue rain barrel (those ugly blue or black barrels) will set you back about $60. They hold abut 55 gallons. You’ll be the curiosity of your block, and can gloat (yep, being a hip activist pays) when you are the only one who can water your garden when the others turn crunchy. You can’t shower in it, but you can wash the dirt off your hands when working in that lovely garden!

Do your part to help keep April as "Water Conservation Month". I'm not looking forward to expanding the honor to another month, or two or three.

Have you noticed it hasn’t rained in a few days? The downpours we cursed a few weeks ago are now a distant memory. So you're probably then wondering: How appropriate is it that April is water conservation month? Historically, April is the driest month in Florida, but that may change soon. It’s only a matter of time when we’ll be amending the moniker. It wont be nearly as tidy a title with press releases proclaiming "April/May are Water Conservation Months" just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Looking at the data from 2009, April registered 0.00 inches, May 0.15 inches. Now that’s a spread huh?  But wait, In 2008 May was actually drier (.58 in) than April (.84 in). So is April’s designation just one of those arbitrary honorariums like National Bird Feeding Month (February) or National Candy Month (June)?

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