Experts urge using water waste to save urban trees instead of letting it go down the drain

What if everyone living in the city saved their dirty dishwater and bathwater and used it to water trees instead of letting it go down the drain? Because experts are urging people to do just that in order to put wastewater to use and save urban trees.

Approximately 2.5 gallons of water a minute is wasted in an average shower, perfectly good water that flows down into the drain. And washing dishes in the sink can waste up to 27 gallons per load.

Meanwhile, trees planted in cities in an effort to fight climate change are dying because they are not being watered enough in their first few years.

“If you plant trees from good stock, at the right time, and provide enough water, you’d lose almost none prematurely,” arboricultural consultant Russell Miller told The Guardian. “But get that wrong, and more than half can die.”

And that’s what is happening as city officials would rather replace a dead tree than keep one that is already planted alive.

“Watering is less sexy than planting,” Miller said. “It’s cheaper to replace them.”

But trees are an investment in time as well as resources, and our planet is running out of both. Trees are necessary to produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Efforts are being made around the world to plant more trees to reduce the record amount of carbon in the air after decades of deforestation. Trees can also help produce rainfall because they release water into the atmosphere. That’s why we rainforests are so named and why planting trees in drought-stricken areas can improve the climate.

By saving young urban trees by watering them, cities can plant new trees elsewhere.

“The idea is not just to plant a million trees, but to establish a million trees,” Royal Botanic Gardens arboretum chief Tony Kirkham says. “Once street trees get stressed it’s difficult for them to bounce back, they really struggle, and have to rely on rain falling the following year. If this doesn’t happen, the problem is compounded from year to year.”

Hoping for rain is just not a good strategy if cities want their trees to survive and continue to grow. Starting from scratch over and over again is not sustainable.

The city-dwelling public can help save hundreds, even thousands of urban trees around the world by using water waste to give the trees a good drink of water that they will thank you for by producing the oxygen you need to breathe as well as providing a lifetime of shade and beauty as well as food and homes for wildlife such as birds.

As long as the water does not include bleach or some other hazardous chemical, a little soap isn’t going to kill trees. They can and will drink the water that we can’t.

“Councils are hoping for rain, and hoping they’ll survive, but there are heavy losses when it comes to urban tree planting,” Kirkham said. “The public can dramatically improve their chances of survival. Anything we can do to relieve the stress on our trees is a massive bonus, for both our local authorities and our trees.”

So, go out and get a bucket or some other container to pour your water waste into and go outside and pour it around a thirsty tree. You’ll be glad you did, and so will it.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.
 

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