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The purpose this article is intended to include some summer watering tips. Here are the city’s rules regarding watering lawns during summer months. They can be found if you google City of Evanston Water FAQ: 7-12-14-2: LIMITS ON LAWN IRRIGATION AND OTHER WATER USES:

(A) During May 15 through Sept. 15 of each year, lawn irrigation with water supplied from the City waterworks system is permitted for odd numbered addresses on odd numbered dates, and for even numbered addresses on even numbered dates. During May 15 through Sept. 15, no lawn irrigation is permitted between the hours of ten o’clock (10:00) A.M. to four o’clock (4:00) P.M on any day of the week at any address in the City. Gardens are exempt from these limits. Lawn irrigation during Sept. 16 through May 14 of each year is not subject to these limits.

Reflecting on this topic, I realize that it is not easy to convince folks living here to worry about saving water. I mean, the lake is higher than it has been in years due to the heavy rains we consistently receive. Why should a person conserve water?

(Other than the fact that less than 2% of the globe contains available freshwater and of that 2%, 20% is here in the Great Lakes).

I have toured the Water Treatment Plant on Lincoln several times with District 65 students. The reason for water conservation is energy conservation. We are blessed, truly, with Lake Michigan water. It is a onetime gift of the last ice age, 1% of which is annually recharged by precipitation. The quality is good. The filtration process is simple and (other than some well-placed uses of chemistry*) largely mimics filtration through the ground. Sand, anthracite coal and gravity comprise the central filtration process. But getting all of that water (over 8 pounds a gallon) to our homes takes lots of energy. For us to have the luxury of a middle of the day or night high-pressure shower, that water has to be there, at the ready. So, conserve water to conserve energy.

But I have something else to say. I have a challenge to propose.

The water comes out of the faucet and directly below is the drain. I had never before thought about the proximity of nozzle and drain, but in that few inches, fresh miraculous filtered glacier water becomes a waste product. So my challenge to you is: stretch out that few inches. Come up with more than one use for that filtered water before it hits the drain. It’s up to you how you do it but email, with your ideas. Here are a few I have tried: when I wash salad in the salad spinner, I dump the water out onto the grass (or snow, whichever is out there), when warming up the shower, we catch the water in a bucket and use it later for a toilet flush or two.

Other ideas? I’ve heard friends say they pour un-drunk water into house plants or have emptied the humidifier outside. Once I tried something I DO NOT recommend without some fixes: I bought a tube from Ace on Davis and suctioned out bathwater – I had one end in the tub and tried (yes, my mouth got soapy bath water in it) to get the water to flow out the bathroom window. I think the window was just too high – it only sort of worked. There are some Dominican Sisters at the Eco Justice Center in who have rigged a pipe from their kitchen sink through their wall outside, across some rocks and into their duck pond. Do you have a rain barrel? How do you use yours? Send along your tips.

In the few seconds that water falls from tap to drain and becomes waste, enough water falls to hydrate some parched person or animal. Out of respect for this great gift, the indigenous stewards of Lake Michigan on whose land we now live, and mindful all who are water insecure; let us model creative water conservation here in the land of abundance.

One last tip: lead in water concerns, do this (quoted from the city website:)

What Can Residents Do to Minimize Lead Exposure in Drinking Water?

Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula (cold water is less likely than hot water to leach metal from pipes and fittings)  Any time there has not been water use for several hours, residents should flush their pipes until the water gets as cold as it gets.  If there has been recent heavy water use, such as showering or laundry, this could take as little as five to thirty seconds.  Otherwise it could take two minutes or longer.  The goal is to get to fresh water that has not been sitting in your household pipes or service line for a long period. Every house is different.

Bottled water is NOT NEEDED in Evanston.

*a polymer called alum is used to cause small particles to clump so they can settle out with gravity before filtration and .001% of chlorine is used to kill off bacteria and to make sure nothing new grows en route to your house.

Evanston sits on the traditional homelands of the Council of Three Fires: Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi as well as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk Nations. Illinois is home to over 100,000 tribal members.

Clare Tallon Ruen runs Watershed Collective, a policy and education group here in Evanston as well as brings District 65 students out to explore their watershed, sometimes using creative movement to deepen their understanding. or to get on a mailing list.

But there⁳ so much more: Here are a couple of other tips:

  • At your next gathering, fill a big water container with ice water instead of buying bottled water.
  • Sign up or ask your landlord for Watersmart It’s a place that allows a resident to see how much water is used, detect leaks, etc. There are lots of other very interesting links on that site.
  • Divert downspouts to lawn or a garden. Standing water is okay as long as it is not against the building.
  • Use rainwater to your benefit. Let it pool in a depressed area and plant native plants. If interested or want help with creating a small rain garden, email