Friday, August 28, 2015

Water Conservation: Offensive? איגום מים: מעליב?

This blog post was originally a response to yesterday’s article about the impending water crisis and my admittedly small-scale but earnest effort to offset it. But an incident this morning is having its effect. As many of you know, for years now I’ve collected air conditioner condensate from each room unit in our home (4) and my unit in my office. For those not familiar with the process, every room unit air conditioner has a pipe from which condensate drips…all summer long. Depending on the unit, the drip can reach up to six liters a day. The water is safe for all uses except drinking: mopping the floor, wiping the countertops, shampooing my hair, feeding it to my dogs, steam ironing, car radiator (it’s essentially distilled water)*, flushing the toilet.

I collect the water in 1.5-liter soft drink bottles, which are arranged in neat rows on my back porch, to the chagrin of my husband and to the admiration of visitors. The part that hurts is that despite numerous attempts to interest them and encourage them to follow my example, my own fellow community members’ reactions range from amused to downright derisive, the latter on the grounds that the collection and storage is unsightly. We are talking about a bucket containing a bottle and a funnel; nothing could be less offensive. To see what it looks like, see this writeup on me (and others) in Maariv.

The amusement derives from the claim that the entire volume of water that I collect throughout “air conditioner season” – six months where I live, which lasts me all the way through the winter to the following air conditioner season – is enough to irrigate one date tree for one day. To which I reply, “So what?” Whatever I collect replaces (costly) tap water; every time I don’t turn on the tap, that’s quickly-depleting groundwater not being depleted.

The question shouldn’t be “Why do you take the trouble (which “trouble” is about five minutes a day)?” The question in my view is “Why isn’t everyone else doing it?” If they were, it would no longer be a one-date-tree savings; it would be significant, perhaps huge. As far as I’m concerned, everyone in Israel who runs a room unit air conditioner should be collecting the condensate. It’s free water, for God’s sake. Even if you think I’m crazy, who can argue with money in your pocket?

Let’s not wait for the impending water crisis. Let’s instead lead the way to offsetting it. How can conserving water – of any quantity – be a bad thing?

* - In fact, during last year's date harvest, our date-growing enterprise used a portion of the water I collected to feed a water-guzzling radiator in one of the hydraulic lifts. I was glad to supply them!

1 comment:

  1. Mollie Saferstein NewmanAugust 28, 2015 at 5:22 PM

    I'm proud of you!! If I had that kind of air conditioner, I'd do the same. And it's no more unsightly than hanging your clothes up to dry in the sunshine. My condo association doesn't allow clotheslines. Um . . . what?