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
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.
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.