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Three Things You Need To Learn From Cape Town’s Water Crisis


Officials in Cape Town saw the signs of the impending water crisis but chose to believe past weather patterns would return rain to the area and the crises would be resolved. I hear similar rhetoric in the dry Western United States today. Improved water supply, sanitation, and water resources management boost cities and country's economic growth. So who wants to be the person responsible for ringing the alarm bell saying we are going to have a water crisis sometime in the future. There's little upside to it, and it could rain. In fact, there seems to be more upside in promoting a cities sustainability plan as a benefit to business wanting to relocate.

Phoenix Arizona's population has grown 23% in the past ten years. Phoenix added over 32,000 people between July 2015 and July 2016. That was the most for any city in the United States. During the same period, Los Angels add a little more than 27,000 and New York 21,000. You can read all about here in the Phoenix Business Journal. Phoenix is proud of their water infrastructure and on the City of Phoenix website your water fears are quickly washed away when you learn the City of Phoenix has been granted by the State of Arizona an assured water supply for the next 100 years. You can also read about some near-term water challenges Phoenix is going to face in this report from the City of Phoenix's Water Services Department. How can any regular person looking for a place to live make any sense of this data? Which is precisely how Cape Town found itself in this situation and soon cities in the United States will find themselves in a similar situation unless they act now to reduce the amount of water they use.

Start reducing your water use today

Cape Town was a thriving major modern city on the coast of South Africa. It is home to over 4 million people and responsible for 9.9% of South Africa's GDP. Time magazine reports Cape Town going dry would be like San Diego going dry. In 2014 Cape Towns water supplies were at full capacity but three years of drought drained the water and today Captonians are asked to live on 13 gallons a day. Today in the U.S. we use a little over 100 gallons per day per person. Your choice of fixtures and washing devices in your home makes a big difference. Your toilet is using anywhere from 1.5 gallons to 4 gallons per flush. Your clothes washer uses 25 to 40 gallons of water. That shower – 2 – 5 gallons per minute. As you can see 13 gallons is not going to go far. Here are 100 ways you can save water at home and in your landscape. You can also review ways to reduce water in your landscape here.

Demand unbiased water supply estimates

Most people make the assumption the cities they live in or move to will always have water. Water awareness is improving, but we need better water supply estimates for large urban areas in the U.S. With technology today it is not unreasonable to receive a report for the expected supply of water in the future. Maybe this is a business opportunity for one of you.

Have foresight

Learn about and support good legislation like California's water bond in 2014. It took a significant drought to pass the legislation, but it did pass. We need additional bonds like this across the West. States need to catch more water and transport it more efficiently. We also need to support funding for desalinization plants and recycled water. It's going to take many small solutions to create one large solution. You can do the same on your property. Don't wait to make changes. Water saving devices like smart controllers and rain sensors should be standard on every property. Don't wait until we have a big problem to install yours. Identify the least expensive changes requiring the smallest investment. The first places to look are your dishwasher, showerhead, and toilet.

Moving forward water issues are going to be the new normal, and there is not a quick fix. The good news is there are lots of ways to solve the problem. Technology and planning are two of the critical solutions. We already have the knowledge and the technology to manage water much more efficiently. It will take the collaboration of many individuals and many solutions to solve the problem, and the essential factor might just be admitting you have the problem.
  

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Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.

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