Coralville's Winter Water Fights are irresponsible


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Coralville's diminishing water supply is not a game to be hosed around with, but only weeks after a report was released describing depleting water resources, firefighters gathered for the annual Winter Water Fights.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources published a report in November 2011 that shows one-third of Coralville's water comes from the Silurian aquifer. The city has two active wells that draw from the Silurian aquifer, which covers most of Iowa. Multiple counties and cities depend on the aquifer, but it is depleting at an alarming rate because of increasing populations, industry, agriculture, and wasteful practices.

Coralville has had a yearly trend of a 3 percent population growth. This has put mounting stress on the aquifer. If sustainability efforts are not taken to maintain the water supply, the city and its residents may need to drastically cut back on their daily water use. So, given the publication of the Natural Resources report and heightened concern for the city's water supply, why did firefighters recklessly waste thousands of gallons of water Jan. 28?

The Coralville Fire Department hosts the annual Winter Water Fights. Firefighters and fire departments throughout Iowa participate in the competition, which determines who are the best at handling high-powered water hoses. This year's competition was held in the Coralville Aquatic Center parking lot. The objective was for firefighters at one end to blast their high-powered hoses at a hanging barrel, trying to move it across a high cable line, as firefighters at the opposite end tried to do the same, while also enduring the cold temperatures.

Most high-powered fire hoses used by firefighters disperse approximately 300 gallons of water a minute on average. Each year, a little more than 200 firefighter teams participate in the Winter Water Fights. So, if each fight takes five minutes, and there are around 30 fights, then roughly 90,000 gallons of water were used at the event. This amounts to 15 percent of the daily water drawn from the Silurian aquifer.

The firefighters' Winter Water Fights is just one example among many others regarding how water is abused, misused, and wasted. Almost everyone unconsciously wastes water numerous times a day. From leaving the sink running while you search for a clean face towel, to running the dishwasher for only five or six items, to throwing out half-empty bottles of water, we are contributing to the loss of fresh water.

Because of wasted and abused water, more and more stress is being put on the Silurian aquifer to supply amounts of water that it doesn't have the capabilities of replenishing. According to the Natural Resources report, this stress can lead to poor water quality and significant groundwater loss. Over time, these negative effects may lead to plumbing limitations, restricted water allocation, increased water pricing, and rancid-tasting water infiltrated with inconceivable amounts of restricted particles.

If you don't want the above to happen to your water, you need to get serious about conserving water and encourage others to do so as well. The city of Coralville needs to get serious about conserving water not only from the Silurian aquifer, but also in regard to practices of water usage in general. The Natural Resources report offers very useful suggestions on how to begin conservation procedures at the city and county levels. The city then has the responsibility to begin preventing and ending activities that encourage wasteful water practices, such as the firefighters' Winter Water Fight.

An element of responsibility also lies on the shoulders of the city in regard to educating its citizens about water conservation, city endeavors, and community activities geared toward engaging the public in their daily water habits and practices. Water conservation is not a personal nor a business interest, it is a community and national interest. Such interest needs to become a part of our global accountability.

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