Green Community Water Management - Doing the Math
Green communities recognize that water is a precious resource and we have to share. Water looks abundant, but it's really not. Only about three percent of the Earth's water is fresh water. Without maintaining a delicate balance in which unpolluted water is available to people and the surrounding environment, unexpected problems arise, often with disastrous results [source: USGS].
Community water management involves supplying water to your home or business, removing and treating wastewater and returning it to the environment. This can be a challenging set of tasks. If a town grows too quickly and water resources are overtaxed, the water you and others use can lower the water level in nearby rivers or lakes, harming wildlife. High water use can also lower the water table that nurtures neighboring ecosystems.
There are potential problems with improperly handling waste water, too. Polluted water going back into natural ecosystems can poison animals and plants. This can happen when aging or undersized water treatment plants can't keep up with the demand. Even rainwater runoff going into storm drains can carry oil, antifreeze and other pollutants into rivers that feed wildlife and support nearby parks and wetlands. In nature, much of this runoff is absorbed into and filtered by the soil.
Some of the ways green communities manage water effectively is by using water efficient products, like dual flush and high-efficiency toilets. They also plant water-friendly landscaping that uses water-efficient plants instead of traditional lawn grasses. Green neighborhoods are designed to help reduce rainwater runoff, either by using materials that help absorb some of the water or by employing catchment systems that harvest rainwater. Other water smart strategies are used, too, like recycling grey water. Grey water is wastewater from sinks and tubs that's then used again in toilets or for irrigation.
From managing water, lets move on to finding greener ways of living and getting around.