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Good morning. Or is it good afternoon? I have been looking back at some of the previous On the Road articles that I have written for you. Would you believe that just about a year ago, I told you that I felt guilty for maybe wasting water as I washed dishes. At that time even the Farmers Associations were stressing that farmers should plant more crops that used less water. Sure enough, when we did our early February Farm Tour, you could see that there were more and more crops being planted that used less water.

Just recently, the local sugar cane mill has announced that they must close. There is no longer enough sugar cane being produced to pay for the expense of operating the mill. Growing sugar cane from planting to production reportedly takes more water than any other crop that is grown in the Rio Grande Valley. I am anxious to go on the next Farm Tour and see how the crops are doing.

All of us – from the housewife who washes dishes and does the family laundry, to the teenager who loves to take those long, exhilarating hot showers, and the farmer who doesn’t watch the border breaks when he irrigates – we all need to become more conscious of our over usage and waste of that precious commodity. And our climate changes, which affect us as well as those in Mexico, is not helping.

As I thought about what more I could do to conserve water, I was reminded of a housekeeper from Mexico that once worked for me. She handwashed dishes differently than I did – and I think it probably did save water. Her method was to take a soap filled wet sponge and scrub each cup, saucer, and plate with the sponge before placing those soapy dishes in the sink and proceeding to rinse them with hot running water. That method probably used less water than rinsing each individual item one by one… especially if you leave the water running as you scrub each utensil. I also wonder if any studies have ever been made over which method uses more water – using an electric dishwasher or hand washing the same number of dishes and utensils.

Some of you guys out there that have an analytical mind figure that one out, will you? And let me know. My dishwasher has been broken for months and replacement parts have not been available. Shall I just continue to wash dishes by hand? After all, that is how I grew up. We didn’t have electricity, much less an electric dishwasher.