The Twelve Months of Water Stories

By Lauren Contorno

Since its launch in 2010, What Our Water’s Worth (WOWW), a joint campaign of Openlands and the Metropolitan Planning Council, has brought readers the stories of real life water stewards from the Chicago and northwest Indiana region. These water champions, including notable individuals, community groups, businesses, and municipalities, have shown us that from Lake Michigan to the Fox River, how we use our water resources – including what we conserve, how much we waste, and what we choose to invest in water quality – is up to all of us.

Here are some highlights from the past two years of water stories as well as conservation tips that can help you emulate these best water conservation practices at your home or business.

Lurie Garden thrives in drought, pointing at-home green thumbs to native plants

Picture 11 of 12

In the eleventh month of water stories, WOWW gave to me…sustainable, drought-resistant gardening tips!

In September 2012, we interviewed Jennifer Davit, the director of Lurie Garden, a perennial garden of native plants in Chicago’s Millennium Park, which continued to flourish despite this summer’s drought. “The initial cost [of planting a native garden] may be more, but over time it is less expensive because you do not have to replant every year, and you save money by conserving water and not applying chemical products,” said Davit. Nearly 60 percent of the garden is native plants, and because of the plants’ deep roots, they can retain approximately 30 percent more water than a conventional lawn, offering substantial water conservation benefits.


Conservation Tip: Choose perennial and native plants, such as those planted at the Lurie Garden, to promote water conservation and plant and animal biodiversity. Forgo chemical application of fertilizers or pesticides by planting native plants, which will save you time and money while helping protect the environment.

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Visit the WOWW water story archive to scroll through all of our past stories and see the WOWW factors of how much water and dollars are saved from best practices! If you have a friend who wants to learn more about what people in the region are doing to recognize the value of water, please pass along this story, have them visit the WOWW blog for more information, and encourage them to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.

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5 Responses to The Twelve Months of Water Stories

  1. paul poy says:

    thanks for the reminder through past stories and how we can adapt and practically implement to support water management for the future

  2. JJ says:

    Go Blue Island!

  3. Kevin Mercer says:

    GREENWASHING ALERT:
    There is no such substance on earth called eco-salts. NONE.

    The is false misinformation. All four chloride salts – calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium – were classified by the federal priority substances list of Environment Canada as major ecosystem toxic substances. Contrary to the salt industry’s propaganda, there is no such thing as ecosystem safe salt and all salt use is ecosystem accumulative and a ticking time bomb of poison building up in the ground or surface water table that cannot be removed or treated by any means other than distillation.

    The use of beet juice extracts on sodium chloride is only useful in as much as it reduces road bounce-off of rock salt spread by trucks and holds it to the road surface longer than untreated salt. However, the only reduction this offers is to the amount of salt which stays on the road after its application. In no way does beet juice additive reduce salt use per se.

    Salt use must be entirely replaced by NON-CHLORIDE anti-icing substances such as calcium magnesium acetate or sodium formate (DO NOT use urea – it is fertilizer), in addition to traction additives such as ecoTraction (DO NOT use sand – highly damaging to sewers and water courses).

    Kevin Mercer
    Managing Director, RiverSides Foundation
    Environmental Sector Delegate
    National Road Salts Risk Reduction Working Group
    Environment Canada

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