For those of you not used to Florida's seasonal rain fall, this may be a soaking experience. For the first time in many years we are finally experiencing the afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Florida has been in a water shortage situation for several years. Part of it is due to recent years' lack of soaking rains. Unfortunately, more is due to usage or consumption, poor planning, and lack of viable recharging areas.
But, Steve, Florida is surrounded by water? Sure it is,... salt water. Salt water intrusion into our aquifer is one of the primary causes of our water shortages. When the aquifer is low, the underground plumbing becomes available to saltwater entering through a wide variety of sources. This of course taints the over-all freshwater that is available.
OK back to the rain. With all of this rain we should see some relief? Unfortunately, that will not be the case. Storm water management is usually centered on diverting the water and channeling it away from the communities. This means systematic diversion away from the ability to recharge the aquifer. Much of it is diverted ultimately back to the sea.
Still, there is enough water that is produced through rainfall to sustain the state if it were properly managed and conserved. In my county the Seminole Soil and Water Conservation Board is an entity that is trying to educate on water conservation. Most counties and cities around the country have at least one government entity that can be used as a source of information. With the green movement building solid momentum, now is an opportunity to focus on using conservation to an advantage.
Three great ways to conserve are:
Flow regulated fixtures for showers and toilets. New technology has gallons per minute way down without the loss of pressure performance. I know that I can't stand a weak shower, but my new shower head uses 1/3 the water and performs better than my old one. Toilets have gone from 2-3 gallons a flush to 1.4. Not only do save water....you save money.
A sometimes HOA controversy is the use of cisterns or collector to catch rain and re-use for irrigation or washing or even flushing. These devices can range from complicated tanks and pumps to a simple rain barrel. Approximately 6000 gallons of water will fall off an average roof in a regular afternoon storm.
Finally, another HOA controversy that has been worth fighting is the idea of xeroscaping or water wise yards. Around my neck of the woods, the fight has been settled in most cases with adopting variances to lessen to use of St. Augustine grass and allow for large areas of landscaping that utilize native and drought tolerant plants. It allows for less water to be wasted on keeping a lawn green. Because native plants are used, there is less need for fertilizers or pesticides. This is my personal favorite because it allows for keeping ascetics - not concrete lawns and gives flexibility for some creative uniqueness in each yard and most importantly saves water.
Just because it's raining, it doesn't mean we are saving water. We will always need and welcome the rain.