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.
Programs in Chicago and the suburbs help property owners save water, energy, money and the environment
In the tenth month of water stories, WOWW gave to me…sustainable backyards!
In June 2012, we informed readers of Chicago’s Sustainable Backyards Program, which provides residents with knowledge and incentives to help them create more environmentally friendly landscapes in their own yards, including free educational workshops and a rebate program that offers up to 50 percent off local purchases of specific trees, native plants, rain barrels, and compost bins. Sarah Surroz, manager of Conservation@Home, a similar program in the Chicago suburbs, says, “This program makes it easier for folks to get specific tips so they can select projects that work for their own lifestyles, budgets and properties.” Educating property owners about the importance of stormwater management and its re-uses is critical to address local flooding and to conserve resources.
Conservation Tip: Use it or lose it. A few days after it rains, be sure to use the water in your barrel so it will be empty the next time it rains. A barrel with no available storage capacity is no help to anyone.
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.