meg morris recycling cape cod aquifer water resources


Water, water, everywhere … forever?

Do you remember reading “The Rhyme of the Ancient Sailor”?

OK, I know we’ve had decent rain lately, but without exaggerating, it’s time to talk about our water source. The need to talk is even greater now that we encourage residents and visitors to drink tap water rather than buying plastic bottled water.

When it comes to water, Cape Town is served by an unconfined single-source underground aquifer that relies on us to keep it clean and plentiful.

How can we help? Let’s start by cleaning up.

Everything we put in the ground can end up in our aquifer, this wonderful underground lens that supplies us with good drinking water on a daily basis thanks to our city water services.

If you wash your car or commercial vehicles in the driveway and overuse chemicals, you could be contributing to the degradation of the water supply.

If you keep throwing trash, when that trash breaks down, it can impact our water supply. If you throw half-empty bottles of cleaning products in the sink; if you don’t clean up after your pooch or throw kitty litter in the 40’s, you are also guilty of adding pollutants to our water supply.

Everyone should take action. Shouldn’t we all take some responsibility and properly manage our waste to protect our water supply?

Brewster, Chatham and Harwich have scheduled four days of household hazardous waste collection, the first being July 10 at Harwich Transfer Station. The fundraising day is sponsored by the county through its LoveYourLocalWater campaign (

Please take a few minutes to properly dispose of household and small business hazardous waste. You and our water supply will be healthier as a result. (While pet litter and waste isn’t collected as hazardous waste, you can do your part by picking it up and throwing it away in your household garbage.)

Now let’s move on to conservation. There is only so much water. Rightly, groups in Cape Town are pushing for more people to drink tap water to avoid the use of plastic bottles and save money. While we are fortunate to have a decent sized aquifer here in Cape Town, we now have more people living here full time, so more use.

We also had a very dry winter with no snow which usually replenishes our water supply. Some of the rain that falls during the summer months simply evaporates, so that it never goes down into the aquifer.

Recognizing the increase in the full-time population, the influx of tourists, and the lack of natural replenishment, many local water utilities have instituted mandatory odd / even days for watering lawns. This means that if your house number is an even number, you should only water on even days and vice versa. Watering times are also prescribed and the best time to water is early in the morning, to minimize evaporation.

What Does Watering Your Lawn Have To Do With Drinking Water? Supply and demand. If we continue to water our lawns every day – and sometimes twice a day – at the end of the day, we may need to limit the water available for human consumption.

It’s a disastrous statement, and some would say an alarmist statement, but if you’ve seen what’s going on in the West, it should give you pause.

Please consider your actions as we go through this summer. We certainly don’t want Cape Town to have to use those famous lines, “water, water, everywhere, not a drop to drink” as a slogan anytime soon.

Margretta Morris is President of the Brewster Recycling Commission. On Recycling appears every month.


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