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An informal water checklist

For the North Carolina state legislature to consider in 2008

  • Improve basic water use data from big users—this goes for both groundwater and surface water. Can the state access all of this information now? No. The City of Raleigh is not telling either the media or anyone at the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, or that matter, how many gallons their big clients consume. How much does agriculture use? We don’t know. We should.

  • Provide water audits—how can big users reduce their use unless they start doing some serious thinking about it and start getting serious help from experts? If you’re not Cree or Duke and already starting to do this on your own, water audits can help.

  • Encourage water efficiency—grants and loans from the state shouldn’t happen until the applicants have proved they’re taking efficiency seriously. That means leak detection, conservation rates and adequate maintenance of what you’ve got already before you get more.

  • Improve plumbing and building codes for new construction, and retrofit old buildings—new efficient standards for new construction, of course. But consider good gray water laws. Require old buildings be upgraded for water efficiency when someone buys them.

  • Use your stormwater—it rushes off the roof and down the drain during rainstorms, but it could be used, either for outdoor irrigation, or even for some indoor uses, if it’s treated. Major new developments or redevelopments should require it be collected and reused.

  • Regulate wells—whether water comes from a municipal tap or is pulled out of the ground, it’s all part of a public trust. There’s a relationship between ground water and surface water. So it shouldn’t be okay to plunk a well on your city lot to keep to your expensive lawn looking pretty during a drought.

  • Provide drought insurance—certain businesses suffer during a drought, from landscapers to farmers to power washers. Affordable insurance will be a buffer.

  • Prevent loss of storage water—rather than dredging, protect from runoff in the first place. Buffer riparian habitat. Don’t allow the watershed to be overdeveloped. Keeping sedimentation out of streams, rivers, and lakes will protect our water capacity.

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