Why Water Conservation Education, Enforcement Matters

Friday morning the Polk County Commission heard that water conservation education is being included in local school curricula to reduce increased water demand and to delay the need for enormously expensive so-called alternative water supply projects.

Local governments are poised to spend tens of millions of dollars on these projects in coming years unless demand subsides.

In mid-Friday afternoon I was driving down a street in Winter Haven near Lake Howard and noticed a yard with sprinklers going full blast about 2:45 p.m. a time when lawn watering is prohibited all over Polk County. Violators can face fines if they are caught, but I’ve never heard much indication that any active enforcement occurs.

While I stopped to snap a photo, a neighbor asked me what I was doing. I told him I was documenting unpermitted water use. He told me I ought to mind my own business. I replied this is my business.

In fact, protecting natural resources is everyone’s business, a point we should constantly make to anyone we meet.

Lawn irrigation is an important issue because it is the largest user of public utility water supplies, which are becoming the largest component in total water consumption in the area.

Before we build the first reverse osmosis plant to treat the water coming from deep wells in outlying areas of the county and piping that treated water to new customers and injecting the brine deep into the earth, we need to have second thoughts about our landscaping practices.

Break the habit of heavy water use and other intensive landscape management practices. They waste water and contaminate the environment.

These are practices we can live without.