Jerry Hall, writing for the San Marcos, Texas, Daily Record, focuses on what we can learn from Bermuda about water conservation. “A visit to that lovely island far out in the Atlantic,” he writes, “taught me a lesson in what can be done when there is no underground aquifer, no rivers and no lakes from which to obtain water.” Here are some excerpts from his article on how Bermuda manages with little fresh water:
Given that situation, the folks in Bermuda, some 65,000 people, turn to the sky for their water needs. Roofs throughout the country are designed to collect rain and large tanks and cisterns store it for future use. By law, all new construction must include rainwater harvesting adequate for the residents.
In the residence hall where we stayed, our shower flowed in a sporadic dribble that certainly conserved water. Whether that was by design or because of the ancient plumbing, I’m not sure. But there were notices posted which explained the importance of conserving water and I was told most residents take water conservation very seriously.
Among the factoids listed on one hand-out were these: A shower can use 25 to 50 gallons of water. Just washing your hands can use up to three gallons and the average toilet uses five to seven gallons of water per flush. Leaving water running while you brush your teeth can waste three gallons. And while 80 percent of the earth’s surface is water, 97 percent of that is seawater.
I also learned that all birds are not viewed with delight in Bermuda, especially pigeons which congregate on roofs and poop in great quantities. That poop has to be filtered out of the water and pigeons are considered a public nuisance.
. . .
By law, homeowners there must keep catchments, tanks, gutters, pipes, vents and screens in good repair. Roofs are commonly repainted every two to three years and storage tanks must be cleaned at least once every six years.
Catchments are whitewashed with white latex paint since the paint must be free of metals which might leach into water supplies. While there is municipal water to supplement individual storage, almost every roof is designed for rainwater collection.
Bermuda’s average rainfall is about 60 inches a year and I noticed many roofs had wedge-shaped “glides” laid to form sloping gutters. These gutters divert rainwater into vertical leaders and then into storage tanks. In addition to filtration, systems utilize parabolic solar cookers and solar water disinfection to make water safe to drink.
In addition to saving water, I was informed the white roofs can cut air conditioning bills about 15 percent. Not a bad combination.
For the complete article go to http://www.sanmarcosrecord.com/features/local_story_325131505.html