Experts share ways to conserve water
There are many simple ways to conserve water, both inside and outside the home, according to speakers at a recent seminar on water conservation.
The seminar, which was co-sponsored by the Darien Nature Center and Darien Pollinator Pathway, was held at the Board of Education meeting room, at 35 Leroy Avenue.
Carolyn Bayne, a member of the Darien Advisory Committee on Sustainability — which is appointed by and advised by the Board of Selectmen — said education on water conservation is “critical” to the goal of sustainability.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the town is seeking bronze certification to be a sustainable community.
“Sustainability is really about the community itself being sustainable in all aspects — financial, human service, housing — but it’s really to help a community be a community and be very resilient,” Stevenson said. “The Board of Selectmen believes that being part of this program will be an excellent way to showcase our town to people and businesses that might come looking and want to try and find a home for their families or for their new business.”
She added that being a sustainable community is going to set Darien apart.
“We have really been challenged over the last couple of years in the issue of what happens when our reservoirs are depleted,” Stevenson said.
There is an “extraordinary amount of consumable water” that’s used by home and business irrigation systems, she said. “If we’re not mindful of conserving our water, we’re going to find ourselves without water.”
Twig Holland, program coordinator for the Aquarion Water Company, said the single biggest use of water during warm weather months is irrigation for lawns and plants.
“We know that when we need to save a lot of water quickly, we can save it through limiting the use of water outdoors,” Holland said.
In single family homes, the average American uses 88 gallons of water per person per day. Darien uses about 184 gallons per person indoors, and 156 gallons per person outdoors, she said.
“We put more water on our lawns, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, than we do on all the irrigated crops in America,” Holland said.
Despite this, she added that currently, Darien’s reservoirs are in “pretty good shape.”
Darien has a twice weekly irrigation schedule.
However, she said Darien is not letting up on its irrigation restrictions “because we don’t want to do on again, off again.”
“So we want people to continue conserving water, using it wisely,” she added.
Conserving water outdoors
No one is allowed to irrigate between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Use systems that are moisture sensors rather than time driven because they are more accurate with the amount of water that’s needed.
Set systems so that the lawn is being watered and not the driveway, sidewalk, or right side of cars that drive past the house.
Use native plants that are drought tolerant.
Conserving water indoors
Shut off water when brushing teeth.
Use shower aerators.
Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator.
Water use survey
Nisha Nalawade, founder and president of Darien High School’s Health and Humanitarian Club, created a water use survey that was distributed through websites including those of the town of Darien, Pollinator Pathway, Darien Land Trust, Darien Environmental Commission, as well as newsletters, email lists and social media and the Mather Center.
There were 197 responses to the survey.
Based upon its results, Nisha suggested additional ways to save water in the home.
In the bathroom, “consider low-flow faucets and low-flow shower heads, or find a way of timing yourself using a clock or a song,” Nisha said.
In the kitchen, she suggested using the dishwasher with a full load only, scraping instead of rinsing dishes, and thawing frozen foods in the refrigerator.
Deepika Saksena and Juliet Cain of the Darien Pollinator Pathway also spoke about measures to conserve water.
A Pollinator Pathway are corridors of public and private properties that provide native plant habitats and nutrition for pollinators.
According to Cain, incorporating native plants into one’s landscape not only conserves water, but also improves water quality.
A native plant is one that was growing in Connecticut before the arrival of European settlers.
“The thought was maybe we can encourage municipalities, homeowners, and businesses to make these areas greener, more hospitable, with native plantings and maybe not using pesticides,” said Cain, adding that this would create healthy yards and public spaces for pollinators, pets, and families.
“The primary goal of the Darien Pollinator Pathway is to restore habitat for pollinators, and we do this by asking residents in town to give up pesticides, and to plant native plants,” she said.
Saksena said that to thrive, pollinators need food and habitat — a place that they can raise their young.
“A lot of the pollinators depend on insects such as birds, and insects need plants. There’s a co-dependency,” Saksena said.
She said that the chemicals that people are putting on lawns are killing the native habitat.
Chemicals on lawns are “destroying the central nervous system of the pollinators, making them weaker,” Cain said. “They are unable to fight disease.”
She added that 60 million pounds of pesticides are used on lawns each year.
Putting in more native plants on one’s lawn will help with insects and pollinator decline. “Most plant-eating insects like butterflies and caterpillars only feed on native plants,” Saksena said.
According to Cain, native plants don’t need the same amount of watering that a lawn needs.
“If you can replace even part of your lawn with native plants, you will find that you use less water. They are self-sustaining. They require very little maintenance. and they don’t need chemicals.”
For more information on the Aquarion Water Company, click here.
The full meeting can be viewed on Darien TV79.