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Letters to the Editor

Green lawns or drinking water?

Ron Ferrell August 10th, 2011

Got “H 2 NO” (Clifton Adcock, July 27, Gazette)?

Recently, I was in Vici in western Oklahoma, and they have had less than one-fourth-inch of rain in the past year. Pastures appear dead, crops are nonexistent and cattle are being sold because of drought. This is not a “what-if” scenario; this is the new reality. Farmers are selling their pond water and well water for oil-field fracking, and reports of farm wells going dry are a common story.

I grew up in rural Dewey County, and every family farm had cisterns, as did many of the town folks. There was no public water supply. To say we did not waste water is an understatement. There were two cisterns on our farm. We caught water off our big barn into one cistern, and that was for general family usage. Another cistern at my grandmother’s house caught all of our drinking and cooking water.

Our drinking water was pulled out of the cistern on a rope-bucket pulley system, and that continued even after I went to college. Water was then, and will be soon, a major issue. We waste water, we crap in potable water, we dump it on our lawns, we have no idea where water comes from, but all we have to do is turn on the tap, and it magically appears. So far … In Third World countries where folks have to haul 5 gallons of drinkable water on their head for miles and miles, they do not crap in that water or keep their Bermuda grass alive. They are doing well to survive.

I used to think it would be peak oil that puts a halt to suburban expansion, but now I believe it will be a lack of water. So now Oklahoma City is trying to buy water from Sardis Lake, and personally I hope the tribes refuse us, because we are wasteful, irresponsible and arrogant.

It should be illegal to water a lawn out of the public water supply. If you don’t catch it off your roof, then let it die. Our precious water should be limited to food production and drinking water. When we run out of potable water, it won’t make a shit how green your lawn is if you don’t have drinking water. Every homeowner should be required to catch water off the roof for incidental watering. Currently, rainwater, one of the cleanest forms of water, is considered “runoff.” Wastewater. Let it run down the sewer system to be contaminated by all the other toxins flushed down the sewer system.

Historically, societies do not change until after collapse. We see this crisis looming, but what will we choose to do to prepare? Green lawns or drinking water?

— Ron Ferrell Jones

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08.10.2011 at 07:01 Reply

I lived on Hawaii's Big Island for more than a year.  In areas where public water is inaccessable citizens have to have a catchment system.  It's probably just not practical here since the rains we recieve are a fraction of what the Big Island gets.  Not to mention most property owners don't want something the size of a swimming pool blighting their yard.  Moreover, the water has to pass through an ultra-violet purification system to kill off bacteria, and even after that, it's only good for bathing.

We have a rain barrel at my house, but it barely produces enough water for our plants.  That said, every little bit helps.  It's about a $100 expense for the barrel, and depending on where it's located, it's not the prettiest thing to have on one's property.  For now it's just cheaper and easier for people to continue to be irresponsible than to make these concessions.  But at this rate, it won't be long before reality sets in for most of us.

Frankly, I'm shocked there aren't efforts to begin construction of desalinization plants and pipelines to deliver that purified water from the ocean to inland metros.  But like the desire to build a pipeline to deliver oilsands to Texas, our country is hell bent on wasting resources on all the wrong projects.  We literally can't see the forest for the trees.  People like us are referred to as a tree hugging hippies, but in 50 years we'll be proud to say "I told you so".


08.25.2011 at 05:12 Reply

Rain water catchment usually yields half a gallon per sq ft of roof, per inch of rain which can generate 1000's of gallons from a few storms for a typical size house. 

Filtered, UV sterilized catchment systems for residential drinking water are widely in the US and other countries.. not just for bathing and irrigation.

There are some sources for free rain catchment barrels. In Norman, Forest Lumber has been giving them out.  Fifty-five gallon barrels can also be obtained from 'the barrel man' out of Agra, OK for $10 to $20 each.  Otherwise above ground or in ground, poly cisterns from 250 to 3000 gallons can be purchased for $500-$2000 from a wide number of places.