10.30.12Alan Harris

We Were Bitten by the Blue Bug of Water Conservation

DragonflyThankfully this Blue Bug does not bite, but does appreciate water conservation.
Photo Courtesy - princecody

In the post, “When Were You Bitten by the Green Bug”, the importance and success of early childhood education when it came to conservation was explored. The responses and comments on this site as well as in group discussions on LinkedIn were inspirational so I asked a two of my fellow contributors and other water lovers how they first became interested in water conservation.

Charles Fishman – Journalist, Author of “The Big Thirst

I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Fishman speak recently in Phoenix at the American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting and Expo then again 30 days later at Smart Water Solutions for Atlanta. Each time he shared the story of how a business journalist became interested in water conservation.

When he and his wife were traveling in Miami they checked into a hotel where a $7 bottle of Fiji water was placed in the room for “their drinking pleasure”. Before he could tell his wife not to drink what was the equivalent cost of a good six pack of beer, half of the bottle was drained. This raised a couple of intriguing questions:

1. Does Fiji water really come from Fiji?

2. Where exactly is Fiji?

Thus began a long journey deep into the world of water…and a great book.

Martha Golea - Water Blogger, Lawn and Landscape Contributor

My first real experience with water conservation happened in college. I had spent most of my life in the soggy Midwestern US and didn’t pay any attention to my water usage, but my roommate grew up in the Arizona desert so she was aware of every drop.

When the shower in our apartment developed a drip, I just thought it was obnoxious – she thought it was atrocious. So we sat a jug under the dripping faucet to collect the water and then poured the water into the toilet bowl to flush our toilet. Prior to that experience I completely took water for granted. Since then, it’s on my mind all the time. Probably because that roommate is my sister-in-law now and her conservation habits have had years to rub off on me!

Avi Djanogly – Director and Partner at GabiH2O (comment from LinkedIn)

What converted me? Picture this…. The summer of 1982. Dexy’s Midnight Runners were No 1 in the charts with Come On Eileen. I was eighteen. Thinner, definitely more hair. Though not as engaging as I am now… But I digress that summer a group of us went touring in Israel and Egypt. No parental constraints. Wonderful. Two things happened that are etched in my memory forever. Went to the sea of Galilee which was beautiful, moonlight stroll, with a gorgeous girl, a long deep chat and carving our initials into the wood of the base of a life guarding tower while the waves lapped just metres away, Oh and I got arrested in Egypt.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2009. 27 years later. For those of you with the musical bent Lady Gaga Poker Face is Number 1. I’m back in Israel at the Sea of Galilee with my family. And that was my epiphany moment. Being nostalgic we found the life guarding tower where we had carved our initials. But this time there was no sound of lapping waves nearby. The lifeguarding tower was now nowhere near the water. The lake was about 150metres away. The fresh water sea had retreated. Gone. Leaving lots of isolated lifeguarding towers like forlorn giants. As I strolled towards the shore I realised that Jesus would have had a far easier time walking on water because I could see land banks in the middle of the lake. The retreat of the water bore terrible witness to the culture of just taking what we want, just feeding the habit, So determined to do something about it.

That’s why we started GabiH2O (in partnership with Nickelodeon UK dedicated to getting the message out there that we need to make better and wiser use of our natural resources.

Mark Hopkins - Water Bloggger, Landscape Professional

I’m really old so my earliest memory of water conversation goes back to spending summers at my Grandma’s farm. My great-grandparents homesteaded the land during the Oklahoma land rush in the late 1800’s and my grandparents built their house, on the land, in the early 1900’s.

The home had running water…the kind of water you had to run and fetch. The only dependable water that was available was from a well and it had to be hand pumped. Each day my Grandma would go to the well and fill a bucket with water. The water from this bucket was used for drinking, cooking and bathing. None of it was ever wasted. If any was left at the end of the day, it was used to water in the garden. Additionally, she had a rain barrel that would collect runoff from the house. During rainy seasons, this water was stored and used as well.

Having raised a family during the infamous Oklahoma dustbowl, she completely understood the value of water and the impact when it wasn’t available. Most of us take for granted that water will always be available and in abundant supplies. The lesson I learned from my Grandma is that water is a precious resource, not to be wasted.

Richard RestucciaWater Blogger, Lawn and Landscape Contributor

I grew up in Phoenix Arizona.  I was raised in a typical tract home.  What did not seem typical to me was all the turf surrounding these homes.  We would  flood irrigate the turf.  This meant you waited approximately two weeks until water was delivered through a series of canals to a valve in the corner of your yard.  You would unscrew the valve and water would flood your yard over the next hour.  The time of delivery was random. You could get delivery at any time of the day and often Murphy’s law would prevail and your water would be delivered at 3 in the morning.  When the water was delivered early in the morning many times people would fall back to sleep and yards would flood and water would run down the street…not exactly a great example of water conservation.  We also had fun with the water, skimboarding was a blast in the water, but I also recognized the waste and thought there must be a better way.  I still have friends living in the old neighborhood and unfortunately some are still irrigating that way today.  I should check to see if they have color TV.

As for me –  Water Blogger, Lawn and Landscape Contributor…

As a young boy in the 1960’s we were visiting my grandmother’s farm in North Carolina for the summer during a drought. One day while in the City of Franklinton (population 1745) the sheriff was riding around town with the loud speaker telling everyone to conserve water. Water conservation back in those days meant you were only allowed to bathe once a week and you didn’t have to flush the toilet…when the content was clear.

For a young lad who hated to take a bath and was always forgetting to flush, these were joyous words. However, when we got back to the farm I was told to go bathe before dinner. A bid confused, my mother told me we had plenty of water because the farm had a deep well and it was just the city that was running out of water. In retrospect I realize we don’t have water shortages, just water and population distribution problems.

So now the question is, “When were you bitten by the blue bug of water conservation?”

P.S. Fiji water does come from the Island of Fiji which is located 1100 northeast of New Zealand where 53% of the population does not have access to clean water let alone the water they bottle and export around the globe.

If you liked this post, please share it with a friend, leave a comment, check out my previous posts, follow me on Twitter @h2oMatters and

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations and Regional Sales Leader for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.


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  1. Tuesday, 12:03 MomH2O

    Way to shine, Alan! This is an A+ blog!! The geographic diversity (Israel to Oklahoma and a side of NC – whew) was unique too.

    Kudos to all of the contributors…how do we infect a zillion other people on our planet to care about conserving? Oh, I guess one way is by sharing this post. I’m on it, boss!

  2. Wednesday, 3:09 Amarjit Singh Dhingra

    During one of the offical visit to canal inspection (place delibrately hidden), I noticed the canal delibrately damaged and deshaped to slow down flow rate. At one location there was a deep pit-hole right within the canal bed clearly showing water guzling down to shallow water table. When objected, I was informed that the canal cannot be repaired as all sugarcane fields adjoining the canal belonged to highl level politicans. No dought the blue bug of water conservation bit me that day.

  3. Wednesday, 3:15 Amarjit Dhingra

    During an official site inspection to canals (place delibrately hidden) I realized that the canal shape is unusually widened to slow down the flow rate. At one of the locations a pit-hole could be seen within the canal bed guzling water to shallow water table. When objected, I was informed that the canal cannot be repaired as the sugarcane field adjoining the canal belong to high up politicians. The officials maintaining the canal were threatened for life. No dought blu bug of water conservation bit me hard.

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