The Drought: Rethink established practice?

August of a long hot summer breaks with news that a full half of US counties – 1,584 in 32 states – are now designated primary disaster areas.   This 2012 drought impacts local, national and international levels: farm communities face economic ruin, struggling America’s families must pay more for  food, and hungry people around the world will be  hungrier. Isn’t it time for a broad rethink of priorities in our water use?  Can we move beyond unsustainable flush-and-forget practices?  Ecological sanitation – including waterless toilets and the recycling of nutrients in agricultural production – is the way forward. Problems with using fresh water to transport Americans’ feces and urine to revenue-ravenous wastewater treatment plants include soil contamination, water pollution, air quality issues, and sewage sludge disposal. We can do so much better.  Watch this blog for more on promising research from Recode Oregon, the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance, EcoSanRes and others.      


  1. Carol McCreary on August 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    In the August 16, 2012 New York Times, Charles Fishman says “Don’t Waste the Drought” Just as the oil crisis spurred fuel efficiency, the current drought can inspire water efficiency. Here’s what he says should be fixed. 1. Infrastructure. Leaky pipes lose one in six gallons. 2.Watering lawns uses half of household wster. 3. Plumbing fixtures should tell us how much water we’re using. 4. Building codes should require rainwater harvesting. 5. Water utilities need to redesign bills to show how many gallons each customer used each month. 6. Rethink which crops are grown where. Rice in Texas is crazy. 7. Recycle water.

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