Water Conservation || Stuart, Florida
July 14, 2016
Going Green, or environmentally conscious living, is widely accepted as part of daily living for many Americans. We are more accepting of ‘green’ products and whole companies now focus on safer, more ethically produced products, devoid of toxic ingredients that can affect health and the environment. Recycling has become mainstream and hybrid cars are considered hip. Seventy-seven percent of American adults take part in some sort of recycling programs, while about 67% of adults recycle aluminum or metal cans and 57-59% of adults recycle paper and plastic.
Why is all of this so important? As the population continues to grow and natural resources are used at an increasing rate, conservation becomes critical. Although Florida is surrounded by water and seems to have an abundance of it, water conservation is serious business. According to Water Sense, an EPA Partnership Program, “The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day.”
It makes sense that depending on location, a person’s outdoor water use will fluctuate. More water will be used for irrigation purposes in dry climates, as much as 60% of all outdoor water use. The frightening part is so much of the irrigation water used ends up being wasted. “As much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is wasted from inefficient watering methods and systems,” according to the EPA. In Florida, we’ve seen water restrictions since 2010, allowing residents to water lawns only 2-3 times per week, depending on county and local government guidelines.
Water pollution is also a huge problem, that has wide, far-reaching effects. Polluted rivers, lakes and oceans can endanger wildlife, affect the food change and render our drinking water supply unsafe. According to the South Florida Water Management District, “Nationwide, polluted runoff/storm water is considered to be the greatest threat to clean water.”
Two Florida stories making headlines amplify the importance of clean water. In a story published today on TBO.com, manatees are dying because of the pollution in the Indian River. From 2012-2015, 158 manatees died in the Indian River lagoon, along with countless pelicans and dolphins. The problem has begun again, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, with 9 new manatee deaths. Deaths of this endangered species warrant special investigation and each death is closely examined. These deaths are reportedly being tied to two different algae blooms created by pollution of the water fed to the lagoon.
There is also a second, unrelated algae-bloom story with national headlines and implications for the state of Florida. The Treasure Coast, which is comprised of Palm Beach county north to the Space Coast and includes the counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River, is being impacted by a devastating algae bloom. The center of the blooms seems to be the St. Lucie River in Stuart and appears to be related to freshwater being released from nearby Lake Okeechobee. Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency amid the 44 algae blooms sites identified, some with toxic levels that could pose health risks. According to some Stuart residents, the smell is horrible, it’s unsightly and the economic impact on local tourism is disastrous.
So, what can Florida residents do to conserve water and prevent pollution?
– Follow guidelines on fertilizing plants and grass in your yard. Find guidelines for your area at: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/yards/fertilizing/
– Follow watering restrictions and only water your lawn on the days your county allows.
– Water your lawn in the early morning hours, so less of the irrigation water evaporates.
– Limit the amount of time your sprinklers run. Florida lawns need less watering than you might guess.
– Choose native Florida plants which are drought tolerant, require little irrigation or fertilizer and are low maintenance.
– Increase the size of your plant beds to reduce the square footage of grass in your yard.
The biggest impact you can have as a Florida resident is to have an artificial grass lawn installed. It is the ultimate green product, requiring no water or fertilizer. Save yourself time, money and hassle with this environmentally-friendly option. For more information or a free estimate, visit www.JustLikeGrass.com or call 1-800-445-2944.
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