The title of this post is a quote from a news article on a recent water crisis that many Sleepy Hollow residents weren’t aware was happening.

When New York City shut down our water supply to avoid contamination during a severe storm, Sleepy Hollow was left with only its inadequate 12-hour emergency supply.

The Department of Public Works improvised with great skill, but despite their efforts there would have been no water available to the fire department had a fire broken out and, had things gone just a little worse, no water to drink.

This is why water conservation isn’t an abstract practice with results invisible to the average person: When we work to reduce our collective water use, it is our own life and property we’re protecting.

Riverkeeper offers statistics on average water use and ways to reduce our water impact.

In the long term, we need to ask why we’re using drinking water to wash cars, water lawns, flush toilets, and put out fires.

UPDATE: Another water incident occurred in early May.

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From the USDA Forest Service Northeast Area Watershed Program:

Clean water is one of our most important and valuable forest products. In urban areas, trees and forests reduce storm water runoff, cool the air, and provide critical refuge for fish and wildlife. Forests also help clean the air we breathe.

By filtering pollutants from air and water, storing water and nutrients, protecting soils, flood plains, and streams, and providing aesthetic and other human needs, forests bring significant benefits to our lands, waters, and communities. People depend on healthy and well-managed forest lands. Over 50 million people depend on northeastern forests, in part, to protect their water supplies.

Also see the Northeast Area’s Publications.

The Watershed.

January 8, 2010

“[A watershed is] that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

John Wesley Powell

Diagram of a watershed.

Online training in watershed management from the Environmental Protection Agency.