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Reclaiming your water
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The drought ravaging Georgia's watersheds has many businesses, school systems and private citizens trying to use less water. But some residents have practiced water conservation long before the state's rivers and lakes began to dry.

As a newly wed, Covington resident Carol Veliotis lived on a small Greek island where she learned to use every drop of water wisely.

"I was probably just as wasteful as every other American before I lived on an island with no fresh water source," Veliotis said.

Islanders captured rain water from rooftops and stored it in underground cisterns, but between late April and October not a drop fell from the sky. Surrounded by sea, the tiny island had to have drinkable water shipped in on a tanker.

"If the seas were rough, the water couldn't come in and one winter we didn't have water for 10 days," Veliotis said.

She remembers taking a bath, not a full one of course, then bathing her children in the same water and then washing rugs in the water and finally using the murky water to water plants.

Ice was an unheard of luxury on the island.

Even back in the states for two decades, Veliotis still shudders at the sight of water running on full blast down a sink.

While waiting for her shower to get hot, Veliotis captures the cold water in buckets for her garden. After a dinner party, half full glasses of water go onto her plants.

Water reused in this way in gardens and greenhouses is known as "grey water."

Crushed spiders are never flushed down the toilet in her home, but rather thrown into the trash.

Veliotis suggested filling a mug with water to wet a toothbrush before brushing teeth, then rinsing and gargling with half and using the remainder to clean the toothbrush.

According to Veliotis, this method compared to leaving the faucet on when brushing teeth, saves up to 3 gallons of water per minute.

She also said it takes a front loader to close her dishwasher because she never runs it without it being completely full.

"It takes the same amount of water whether you have one dish in it or 100 dishes," Veliotis said.

She does the same when washing clothes.

Veliotis is an executive board member of Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, directed by Covington resident Connie Waller.

Waller, too, has employed several methods around her home to save water.

 She and her husband recently bought and installed a tank-less hot water heater, which conserves water by heating it on-demand - or whenever the faucet runs.

Like Veliotis, Waller saves water by placing buckets in her shower as well as placing a bowl in her sink to catch run-off from rinsing dishes or vegetables with which she waters her plants.

Even cooled water from steaming vegetable for dinner goes into the garden.

Waller and her husband have also begun taking "navy showers" - or wetting one's hair and body, turning off the water to soap up and then rinsing.

"We've started timing ourselves," Waller said, "and we have the water running in the shower for about two minutes."

She said she finds it fun to try to beat her record.

Veliotis suggested only washing the really dirty parts in the shower.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Robert Floyd of Newborn did not know the definition of a "navy shower."

After speaking with someone about how his well is currently drying up, he was asked if he knew what the term meant - to which he replied no.

When the person told him what the term meant, he just laughed and shook his head.

"We've been doing that for years," Floyd said. "That's our normal routine."

As a father of five, Floyd has always known his well's limitations.

His family takes short showers, no one washes a car at the home and they find the water pressure at hotels amazing and a luxury.

The Floyd family too has been conserving water long before Gov. Sonny Perdue declared the northern third of the state in a level 4 drought and mandating municipalities cut water usage by 10 percent from this time last year.

"The water table has really been going down," Floyd said, "and that's not something that's happened in the last six months. It's really been going on for about two years."

Waller said her organization's position has become integral in making people aware of what they can do to save water. She said small efforts in every home will make a big difference

"It has always been our effort to educate people," Waller said, "but in this water situation it's gone beyond personal choice because when one of us runs out of water, we're all going to run out of water.

"So, I'm hoping people will take the tips to heart."

Veliotis said citizens should practice water conservation even if the drought ends and it rains all winter because there could always be a next time.

She said it is important to remember both the Earth and the human body are approximately 70 percent water. She thinks there is something fascinating and beautiful in that parallel and everything should be done to maintain it.