How to Save Water in a Drought

Reader Contribution by Texas Pioneer Woman
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Today is a cloudy day in my corner of the woods. I keep hoping that it will rain. Lord knows we need it. But, as I opened this morning’s newspaper the headline on the front page of my local paper catches my eye, “Arid Outlook”. The article states that we are already 4.63 inches of rain behind so far this 2013 year in my area and that the prediction for our summer will be “warmer and drier than usual”. Have you ever been in East Texas in August? August is scorching hot and humid, and the only rainfall we receive is the sweat that falls off us!

The new challenge as we head into our summer is to learn techniques on how to be more frugal with our water so, that we can stretch it further. There is a website that encourages us to take a challenge to conserve water at  This website gives indoor and outdoor activities that can be done to save water. Also this website lists how much gallons of water can be saved daily be doing each activity. Some activities listed were to turn off water in between rinsing dishes and to use a broom instead of a water hose to clean off patios and other concrete areas. By reducing the amount of water being wasted on some activities then we can channel that saved water into other areas that are in more need of the water during a drought such as plants and animals.

To help our plants survive these hot and dry summers we need to learn how to garden in a drought. There are several tricks we can do to help extend our watering. We need to start collecting water. Rainwater can be collected by using barrels near the eaves of the house so when it does rain the water will run off the roof and into the barrel. Also water can be collected on the inside of the house and transported to plants. We can collect water in a simple bucket that is placed under the faucet as the water runs while it is heating up for a shower or for washing dishes. And for the true conservationist of water, the leftover water from a bath or washing the dishes can be bucketed up and taken to the plants.

I have a greywater system to help reuse water. Greywater is the water that comes from a washing machine or a bathtub that is diverted outdoors for watering plants. If you do use a greywater system make sure you use natural cleaning products in your washing machine and bathtub so as to not adversely affect the plants.

Mulching plants also help to retain the precious water in the soil by slowing down water evaporation. Mulch can be leaves, shredded bark, or grass clippings. Put the mulch about 2-3 inches deep around plants. Another way to slow evaporation is to water early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is at its lowest point. Slowing down the evaporation process helps the moisture to penetrate into the plant’s roots. Also burying a 3 inch wide or larger tube next to a tree helps the moisture to penetrate deeper into the soil so that the water reaches the tree roots.

Also if our summers keep getting hotter and drier we need to find alternate sources of water. Do you have an old well that could be used to irrigate? Many older homes in the country only source of water were from individual wells behind the house before local waterlines were used. If you are living in an older home out in the country chances are you have one. Find it, get the water tested for quality, and then start using it for irrigation and for water for the farm animals. I have an old 25 feet deep well. That is a shallow well but, it still produces enough water for me to run 1 water hose for 3 hours daily.

Another alternate source of water could be a creek or pond on your property. Most farmers were smart or lucky enough to buy property with water on it. If you do have a small creek or pond, could you dam it up or dig it out so that you have more access to water? If yes, then add a water pump to it and use it to irrigate plants and to provide much needed water for your farm animals.

I urge you to start taking action today to prepare for the possibility of an upcoming drought.  Remember there are many possible ways to prepare. Water can be conserved indoors and outdoors and redirected to where it is needed the most. It also can be collected and reused on plants. Also steps can be taken to help preserve the moisture that is already in the soil. Lastly, plans need to be made on finding alternate water sources.

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