By Garry Brown, Executive Director / Orange County Coastkeeper
There are plenty of ways to celebrate the Earth on Earth Day (Monday, April 22). Some of the more popular activities include planting a tree, or attending a local festival where you can make some recycled arts and crafts. On this Earth Day, we want you to focus on something else: water.
Two years after the first Earth Day was established in 1970, Congress passed the Federal Clean Water Act. After decades of dumping sewage, industrial and agricultural waste into the nation’s waterways, the nation finally established that the public has a right to swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters. The Clean Water Act is what gives citizens and organizations, such as Coastkeeper, the right to enforce the law against polluters to protect our waters, which belong to all of us.
Of all the water on our blue planet, only 1% is available as fresh water to sustain life on land. We cannot afford to take this 1% for granted, and yet we do every day. About 60% of our fresh drinking water supply goes towards landscaping, not towards human sustenance. Meanwhile, we undervalue and waste this most precious resource because we are fortunate to have it so readily available from our taps.
There are many simple and easy steps that you can take to use water more wisely.
In the home: do not let water run while brushing your teeth, install a low-flow showerhead, and wash only full loads of clothing or dishes.
Outside the home: do not hose off your driveway, water your lawn in the coolest part of the day (early morning is best) to prevent loss from evaporation, and convert your landscaping to utilize drought-tolerant, California Friendly plants. You can view more indoor and outdoor water saving tips at saveourh2o.org.
If we all reduce our consumption by a small percentage, we can ease some of our water demand and will not need to focus our efforts on creating or importing more fresh water to our region. These kinds of projects are very expensive and energy intensive. Viable, cost-effective solutions, such as stormwater capture exist and have positive environmental impacts.
North and central Orange County has an excellently managed groundwater basin, and the state of the art, award-winning Groundwater Replenishment System treats and recycles wastewater at a very affordable rate.
Orange County Coastkeeper is a clean water non-profit dedicated to protect and preserve our region’s marine habitats and watersheds through education, advocacy, restoration, research and enforcement. It is our hope that on this 43rd Earth Day, you will make a small change to how you use and view water in order to protect coastal water quality for our community and future generations.
Coastkeeper is the new Green column contributor, and we are excited to share the latest environmental news and issues happening in and near Newport Beach. We have very close ties to Newport Beach. In 1999, our organization was founded at Rhine Channel where we worked with the city to identify the severe pollution in the channel and advocated for the dredging project that helped improve water quality for Newport Harbor.
The Green column will appear monthly in the Newport Beach Independent. Thank you for reading. You can learn more about what is going on with your water on land and in the sea at coastkeeper.org.