Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon
Mon, Feb. 24

Guest column<br><br>Grey water better than no water in drought conditions <br>

All that snowmelt from Colorado and the Four Corners area is trapped behind dams and actually lost to evaporation because the surface area is increased from these man-made lakes. Imagine putting a cup of water in a skinny glass and another cup in a wide pan, then setting them out under the hot sun.

Remaining Colorado River water is fed into Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles. None of these areas have shown interest in conserving water or curbing their growth. The Colorado River does not even reach the ocean anymore – it dries up within feet from the beach.

It is towns like Williams, Flagstaff and Winslow that are getting worried about their future. If our wells have trouble, are we going to be able to tap the Colorado River? There is little allotment left for water from the river and powerful cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and LA might see to it that they get priority over our small community needs.

Some easy solutions to help us deal with the drought conditions already exist. The first thing, botanists will agree – is lawns are bad and use up too much water. Lawns mostly consist of Kentucky Bluegrass, an invasive plant species that forest restoration biologists say doesn’t even belong in the western United States. There are native grass varieties and plants that can be seeded in our yards instead – you can explore this option by looking up xeriscaping in the phone book or on the Internet.

Drip-irrigation is another method used by wise farmers, gardeners and landscapers. Rain barrels and cisterns would be a good idea for most of us; not just to save water, but also to save money.

Grey water systems are ideal for watering lawns and possibly gardens, depending on your preference of soap. It can be as easy as placing buckets in your shower then pouring that water into your house plants or it can be as complex as building pipes from your shower, laundry and sink, to empty out into your yard.

The city of Williams is actually more progressive than Flagstaff when it comes to city codes involving grey water. Flagstaff building inspectors deny grey water permits because they are unfamiliar with the concept, but Arizona state code allows grey water systems so long as your toilet water is not a part of it. Williams is fortunate enough not to have the bureaucracy of Flagstaff. With the impending water crisis, it would be a good step for developers in the area to begin putting in these grey water systems, so that people might become more accustomed to them. If grey water systems could be established by contractors as a normal feature in housing, then it might become more easily accepted in other cities as well.

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