A Thought On

Water Conservation

Bert Kaufmann on Flickr.

California has recently imposed the first-of-it’s-kind water restrictions because of it’s recent drought. Thanks to below-average snowpack this year and a few years of below-average rainfall, the water level has reached emergency levels.

So to fight the drought, the California government is imposing restrictions on homewoners, farms, and other businesses according to the NYT article.

One of those restrictions, as reported by this NPR article, is some diners won’t be served water unless they explicitly ask. Their hearts might be in the right place, but this may be an arbitrary decision.

Let’s pretend that a glass of water is one cup (0.2 liters), or 8 fluid ounces.

In one day, a small stream will deliver about 2 acre-feet of water. An acre foot is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land in one foot of water — roughly from the goal-line of an American football field to the opposing ten-yard line.

Picture then, 80 percent of a football field covered in two feet of water.

That two acre-feet is the equivalent of over 10 million cups of water.

Not refilling (or not serving at all) that cup of water at a restaurant probably isn't making much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. Unless you are McDonald’s. But even if all 1,165 McDonald’s in California stopped serving their Large (32 ounce) cups for one day, that would only save 456,097 cups of water. Almost 1/10 of an acre-foot. Almost.

Quick math check: 32 ounce soda drink has 32 ounces of liquid, and each cup is about 5 ounces of syrup and 27 ounces of water. Multiplied by on average 116 large drinks served a day. Equals ~450,000 cups.

That would possibly be a step in the right direction. But if you really want to help, stop watering your lawn, don’t wash your car, wear your jeans twice. It takes a village.

Just a thought.


I would like to say that I am no scientist and this is my own opinion. But my opinion has been dutifully adapted to fit some points brought forth by a friend of mine; who is in fact a Water Resources Engineer. I also live in Colorado, which I feel is important, because I don’t have first-hand experience with this drought. Maybe this opinion would be better left in my head. Who knows.

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