Fraser sinkhole is good reminder for all of us

The massive sinkhole that occurred last year, eating 3 homes and causing the evacuation of a number of other homes, has resulted in strict water conservation in eleven communities. What does this mean and what can we do to conserve water?

The massive Fraser sinkhole along 15 Mile road in Fraser, Michigan, has impacted residents, communities and county officials in a number of ways. Through diligent efforts, the communities and county were able to avert a discharge of partially treated sewage after halftime of the Super Bowl game. By changing habits to conserve water, the clogged pipes were able to contain the waste water preventing an environmental incident.

It is admirable and herculean the efforts of the residents of those 11 communities went to in preventing a discharge that would eventually impact the water resources in Southeast Michigan. Hopefully some of these changed habits will continue after the pipes are fixed.

Michigan State University Extension has compiled a list of water conservation tips. Some of them are crisis actions while other can be adopted beyond this crisis and not just by residents of these affected communities, but everyone. Unless you are on a private well and septic, each of us pays for water coming into our homes and to clean the water we use before it’s returned to the local river, stream or lake.

Let’s all adopt some of these suggestions:

For every room in the house with plumbing
  • Repair all water leaks immediately and be especially alert for leaks in toilets and faucets.
  • Consider replacing old equipment (like toilets, dishwashers and laundry machines).
  • Install and maintain flow restrictors (aerators) on faucets.
  • While waiting for running water to warm or cool for use on plants or in cleaning, capture flow for other uses.
In the kitchen
  • When cooking, peel and clean vegetables in a large bowl of water instead of under running water.
  • Fill your sink or basin when washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full.
  • When buying a dishwasher, select one with a "light-wash" option.
  • Only use the garbage disposal when necessary. Buy a drain screen and empty food waste in garbage. Composting is a great alternative also.
  • Install faucet aerators.
  • Scrape food from dishes without water prior to rinsing.
  • Operate the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded.
  • Rather than running the tap for cool drinking water, keep a filled container in the refrigerator.
  • Use paper products (plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, towels) to reduce washing during water restriction.
In the bathroom
  • Take short showers (five minutes) instead of baths. Or consider turning off shower while soaping and/or washing hair
  • Turn off the water to brush teeth, shave and soap up in the shower. Fill the sink to shave.
  • Repair leaky toilets. Add 12 drops of food coloring into the tank, and if color appears in the bowl one hour later, your toilet is leaking.
  • Install a toilet dam, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.
  • Do not use toilets as wastebaskets or ashtrays.
  • Hang bath towels to dry and reuse two to three times before washing
  • Multiple use (liquids) before flushing toilet
  • Run full loads of laundry. Set water level to match clothes amount.
  • When purchasing a new washing machine, buy a water saving model that can be adjusted to the load size.

MSU Extension is presenting Save Water: Protect Your Health and Environment program on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the MSUE Assembly Rooms, 21885 Dunham Rd., Clinton Township. Pre-registration is recommended. For more information, contact Maureen at 586-469-6440 or at

For more information on ways to conserve water, see WQ 51 Home*A*Syst: Conserving Water Around Your Home available online or from your locate county Extension office.

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