This post is the fifth in a series exploring ten principles of bioregional living and spotlighting Cascadians who embody each principle.

Sustainable Water in Cascadia

Using water efficiently in buildings, farming and manufacturing. Designing to avoid local issues such as flooding , drought and water course pollution.

From One Living Planet

 From the  Department of Ecology

From the Department of Ecology

Why is this Important?

Water is a necessary component for all lifeforms. Humans can only survive without this precious resource for three days, yet humanity is using it up as if it is in plentiful abundance. The fact of the matter is, the Earth’s freshwater supply is decreasing significantly from excess use, and poor practices.

Washington and Oregon experienced the consequences of lack of water last year during the 2015 drought. The Washington Department of Agriculture anticipated $1.2 billion in crop losses that year, a practice that requires a ton of water. It is not until situations like this occur, do we recognize how valuable water is to our existence.

So what can we do about it in Cascadia? We are blessed with a bioregion that currently has an abundance of natural water sources, but we need to respect nature and its limits to maintain this precious resource.

  Bitterroot River

Bitterroot River

What are they doing in Portland?

The Regional Water Providers Consortium of Portland Oregon has outlined 7 steps for creating water efficient agriculture.

  • Planning and Design: This step involves recognizing the specific microclimates within your property, and planting accordingly to use water most efficiently within your property
  • Compost and Cultivate: Understanding the type of soil you are using will allow you to make better plant and agricultural choices that allow you to use water most efficiently.  
  • Create Functional Turf Area: Consider turf alternatives other than grass in areas of your land that it is not needed. Grass requires a lot of water to upkeep.
  • The Right Plant in the Right Place: Know what plants will thrive best in which microclimate of your land to use water most efficiently for maintenance.
  • Water Wisely: The easiest way to waste water is to do it too often. Adjust your watering schedule according to the climate, and water your turf and garden areas separately.
  • The Use of Mulches: Using a quality organic mulch allows your soil to hold water more efficiently, so that you do not have to water as often.
  • Keep Up the Maintenance: Weeds compete for water, so be sure to keep up on your garden maintenance to ensure you are not wasting water on unnecessary things.

For other ways to practice sustainable water use at home visit “Water Conservation: It All Starts With You” from the Department of Ecology.  

Stay tuned for the sixth principle of bioregional living, Local and Sustainable Food by Mariah Edwards-Heflin.


Mariah is studying Communications at Seattle University. Her passion is helping others understand how to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. She also competes in bodybuilding and powerlifting. She also enjoys reading and meditation on rainy days, and hiking and gardening when the weather permits. Mariah looks forward to learning more about Cascadia and teaching others along the way.