The drought, which is affecting not only the Russell area but surrounding areas as well, is becoming quite severe. Recent measures initiated by our city council were a must. While some residents questioned the delay in initiating these measures, there were still rumblings from others who just felt the need to water their lawns or wash their vehicles. This step, taken by our city fathers regarding the conservation mode to ascertain that our water supply remain intact, was a definite necessity. Personally, waiting until the well goes dry or locking the barn after the horse is gone was something that, hopefully, with the measures under way, will not have to be addressed. Now, the rest lies on the shoulders of each resident to cooperate, take issue with and personally address the situation at hand.
One of the hottest issues on the Internet, and understandably so, is the weather. "It's so hot in Kansas." Just how hot is it in Kansas?
Are the farmers feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs? Are the trees whistling for the dogs? Is the best parking place for your vehicle determined by shade instead of distance? Have you discovered how easy it is to burn your hand when opening the car door or the fact a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron? And, join the crowd if you have discovered recently it takes only two fingers to steer your car -- one on each hand. Without a doubt, it is hot in Kansas, with the weatherman reporting little hope of change in this matter.
We are all guilty of misuse of this precious commodity. It might surprise us to learn an average person easily can consume 200 gallons of water a day. With nearly 80 percent of the daily water usage in the bathroom area, only 5 percent in the kitchen and more than 20 percent used for cleaning and laundry, and these statistics bear some age, is it no wonder that such drastic actions become necessary?
Water, in its purest form is odorless, nearly colorless and tasteless. Water is everywhere, true. It is in our bodies, the food we eat, the beverages we drink. We use it to clean ourselves, our clothes, our dishes, in nearly everything we do. Amazingly, we can travel on it, and even jump in it and cool off on these hot days. As a matter of fact, nearly every product we use each and every day of our lives, contain water in some way, shape or form. All forms of life use it. Death occurs when water is absent. While treasured in some parts of the world, it is easily accessible and often squandered in others. So, what substance is more necessary to our existence than any other? Water.
Water is the only substance that occurs naturally as a solid -- ice -- as a liquid and as a gas -- water vapor. Amazingly, it covers 70 percent of the earth but 97 percent is undrinkable because it is a saltwater. With only 3 percent of the world's water supply as a freshwater, again surprised to learn that 77 percent of that is frozen. So, of the 23 percent that is not frozen, only a half a percent is available to supply every plant, animal and person on Earth with all the water they need to survive.
My drought, Depression Era days remain strong with me. Born during the Depression and the Dust Bowl days of Kansas, my mother always told me the reason I was the one in the family with more lung problems than the rest of my siblings referred back to the dust that was so bad when I was a baby. She related to me how she would wet the cloth diapers and place them over my baby basket as I slept. How they kept the shades pulled day and night, covered with wet towels and rags to keep the dust and dirt from filtering into the house. How the dirt would cover the towels and would have to be wet and redone time and time again during the course of an average day as this was their only means of keeping the house clean, the air presentable to breathing by the entire family.
As a result of being born during that era, I must admit to being possibly a little more observant in the water conservation department, and for this, I do thank my parents as I have come to appreciate water in all forms. We were taught to conserve water at an early age. Green lawns are beautiful, without a doubt. But wouldn't you prefer that your children, your grandchildren have fresh water to drink instead of admiring a lush growth on your front lawn? Beautiful flowers are always precious in anyone's sight, but conserving water for food and crops supersedes this sometimes selfish motive on our behalf.
I love challenges. So, how about each of us taking a challenge to see what each of us can do to conserve and protect our water supply, not only for the present, but for future generations as well, possibly even thinking, as we work on it on a day-by-day basis of this little verse that says, "Waste Not, Want Not," which might encourage us to undertake this challenge even on a more serious tone.
One does not have to go far to see the rivers, streams and ponds are drying up, with some already dry -- Big Creek, the Saline River, the Smoky Hill River. So very, very sad.
We see farmers with water tanks on the back of their trucks, hauling water to their livestock. We see newspaper headlines telling of fires. The TV is blaring with reports and issues that affect the entire nation.
Without a doubt, we are short of water with little relief in sight.
Are we all capable of taking issue with these facts? You bet your bottom dollar we are. An unusual amount of common sense is sometimes called wisdom, so when we see anyone misusing water, we can ask them to kindly think of others before they selfishly think of themselves. By working together as a community, a country, we can put conservation on our priority list. And, each and everyone of us needs to continue to remember water is precious to every living creature on this earth, so use it wisely, not just today, but always.
We commend our city and county officials in all area communities, who under such dire stress for the need of water, are forced into making drastic changes from the normal functional areas. Coming together, we, along with our neighbors and friends and all countrymen affected by the drought, may see this as an open door opportunity to conserve the most precious commodity we have, necessary to survival. Let's each and everyone buckle up and stand behind them. We can make it happen.
Nadene Albrecht resides in Russell and is a retired real estate broker.