Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Butler on Drinking

Duke senior Kristin Butler’s weekly Chronicle columns have earned her an appreciative and growing readership.

Butler writes today about drinking at Duke and in Durham. Here are excerpts from her column, followed by my commentary.

At present, Durham has just 65 days of water left in municipal reservoirs. Given that forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting a La Nina year with "abnormally dry" conditions (read: no rain) through February, our community could be in for a very unpleasant-not to mention thirsty-winter.

Of course, there is a "Level IV" drought blanketing much of the Southeast this fall. Nevertheless, Durham's situation remains exceptional in several regards.

With just 65 days of water, we are in even worse shape than other large cities in the region-including Raleigh, which has 107 days left, and metro Atlanta, where officials are counting on 75 more days. . . .

This is the second time we've had a severe drought in three years (and the third time we've been on water restrictions since 2002), yet officials have largely relied on what Duke psychology professor Mark Leary called "eagerness to please... and strong need for social acceptance" to curb residential usage through summer and early fall.

Gov. Mike Easley is now calling on residents to view a "bit of mud on the car or patches of brown on the lawns" as a "badge of honor" and to eliminate water use not "essential to public health and safety."

But no one, Easley included, wants to support the "draconian" measures required to enforce those suggestions.

That's why, given the acute shortage we face right now, it's particularly disheartening to hear people like Durham Deputy Water Management Director Vicki Westbrook insist "we don't want to use scare tactics to force [conservation]."

On the contrary, a healthy dose of fear is just what this region needs. When officials publicly begged residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 30 percent last month, consumption fell by only 16 percent.

That disappointing response has hastened the introduction of tougher regulations, but it also calls into question whether Durham residents really understand the gravity of our situation.
There’s a lot more to Butler’s column. You can read it all here.


Here are a few easy water-saving tips more people ignore - - -

Before brushing your teeth, fill a plastic glass with water and shut the water off while you're brushing. Rinse your mouth using the water in the cup.

You can easily cook many vegetables in the microwave with just an ounce or two of water. Chop carrots, place in a microwave-safe glass dish, add a bit of water, season as you like, cover and cook.

Microwaves don’t all heat with the same temperature, so check the cooking as you go along.

What are your water-saving ideas?


mb said...

I like the sign posted on many toilets that are connected to septic tanks and drainfields: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Each flush takes ~2.5 gallons of water, and on older toilets, ~5 gallons, so flushing only when solid material is present in the toilet can add up to a lot of savings.

Ralph Phelan said...

Stop watering the golf course.


Anonymous said...

What ever Kristin Butler ends up in charge of (and I'm sure she'll be in charge) she'll do a great job. She's just got good sense!

Anonymous said...

drink beer

Bob said...

Ha! mb's comment above reminded me of a saying we had long ago during a water shortage in Pittsburgh:

"Don't flush without a solid reason!"


Anonymous said...

The biggest water wasters in existence are toilet flappers, the flat disc that is lifted to flush,attached by a chain to the flush lever handle arm inside the tank.These silent leakers only last about 3 years before needing replacement.
The "if it's yellow let it mellow" deal comes at a price, calcium buildup in the passageways of the toilet.Occasional soaking with white vinegar helps remove excess calcium. Modern toilets use only 1.6 gallons of water.Do not use anything to displace the water or lower the recommended water line in your toilet,as you will use more water due to extra flushes to clear it out.

Rullie N.C. licensed Plumber (35 years)

GPretonian said...

Alway take showers w/ a chick.

Ralph Phelan said...

Many toilets in Japan have a two-way lever: Pushing it one way gives you a tiny flush, just enough to clear a purely liquid load. Pushing it the other way gives a nice healthy log-jam-clearing flush that always gets the job done on the first try.

Anonymous said...

You might as well not eat those vegetables after microwaving as you have zapped out all the nutrients. Steaming vegetables inside a pot fitted with a steaming basket is a much healthier way to cook and doesn't require much water usage.