By Curt CollinsContributing Writer
Welcome back to school, returning Catamounts, and allow me to extend an open hand to the new students at Western. Everything will be great here except for one thing: you will no longer have running water available… anywhere. Instead of water fountains and free showers, you will now have to buy all drinking water in bottles and carry change to the bathroom for timed shower stalls and coin-operated toilets. Just kidding. But seriously, this is a possible future for us if the “exceptional drought” continues and we choose not to change our consumption of the world’s most important resource. But don’t take my opinion, let’s instead simply look at the data. According to the Drought Monitor at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, NE, Western North Carolina is in D4 Drought, which sounds something frighteningly close to the term “DefCon 4” if you ask me. This type of drought is exceptional and we’ve been in it now for a while. Looking at data from the NCDA&CS (North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services), our Weather Summary for the week ending August 3, 2008 places Asheville at 49.5% of the expected rainfall for this week when based on a 5-year average for the area. Our fifty-three hundredths of an inch is flyweight compared to the 1.05 inches we had expected to hit us. The total rainfall since January 1, 2008 is 19.90 inches, which leaves us a total of 9.03 inches lower than average. Add to this the numerous times I have heard Governor Easley speaking about the worsening drought conditions with statements like, “We learned a lot about conserving water during the past year, and we need to continue working together to make sure we have adequate water resources today and in the future” (Office of the Governor). The simple point I am making is that we must take steps to curb our water use now. Doing this could lessen the strain on our already dangerously low water supply. Start saving water now while it’s still your choice. We don’t need laws to define our better judgment. Instead, let’s exercise it. Here are some easy steps for us all to take:
1. Turn off the water when you shower to lather. Do you need to shower everyday anyways?
2. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down!
3. Turn off faucet while lathering during hand washing and brushing your teeth.
4. Men can fill the sink when shaving instead of running the water.
5. Call maintenance whenever you notice a leaky faucet or a sprinkler watering the asphalt, or a busted pipe anywhere on campus.
You can also go to www.SaveWaterNC.org andwww.americanwater.com/49ways.htm
You can see many other actions you and your family and friends can take to lower water prices for all of us now, and more importantly, in the future. Liken it to the price of petrol now. Had you known that gasoline prices were going to skyrocket, would you have driven a little less over the last few years in order to have kept them lower?[Sources: Easley, Michael. “Gov. Easley Warns That Drought Is Not Over: Reminds Citizens That Worsening Drought Conditions Mean Conservation Still Important.” State of NC, Office of the Governor. 29 May 2008. http://www.governor.state.nc.us/News_FullStory.asp?id=4615]