So why conserve water when we live on one of the greatest supplies of fresh water in the world? Lake Michigan rose three feet this year, in part because of the large ice cover – the often unacknowledged benefit of those subzero days of January. A solid and lasting ice cover on the Great Lakes prevents evaporation and adds to the water supply as it melts.

According the Illinois State Water Survey at the Prairie State Research Institute, however, “We are faced with a situation in which mean annual precipitation in Illinois could decrease from 38 inches to 28 inches and droughts could diminish precipitation in any particular year to perhaps 15 inches by the end of the century. We do not know the probability of such occurrences.”

Further, the survey says, reliance on /production of biofuels can affect the quality of Great Lakes water. Increased production of grains for biofuels means increased agricultural runoff, thought to be one of the causes of algae blooms in Lake Erie.

So it is not prudent for us who seem to have an endless supply of water to be profligate with it. And as a community, it seems we are not. Many homes and businesses have low-flush toilets and water-saving showerheads. Rain barrels are common sights in local gardens, as are native and drought-tolerant plants, which are gradually replacing grass in the yard. 

The City restricts the hours for watering lawns and gardens – prohibiting midday watering for the most part. This is a prudent measure, because water thrown out during the brightest times of day is likely to evaporate into the air rather than soak the roots. Fountains in the Arrington Lagoon at Dawes Park and the Lovelace Park lagoon aerate the water, keeping down the growth of algae.

Water is life. Perhaps if we take care of it, it will continue to nurture us. After all, doesn’t water seek its own level?