It is doubtful that when the ancient Babylonians first championed the tradition of “resolutions” for the start of the new year, they knew the anxiety, pressure and stress they would induce.
Over 4,000 years ago, the people of Babylon kicked off each new year with an annual celebration. Unlike our modern year that starts at the beginning of a new calendar cycle, the Babylonians began their new year in mid-March when crops were first planted, according to Northampton Community College Magazine.
“Akitu” was their Times Square ball-drop. This 12-day religious festival was thrown in honor of the king, renewing his reign as Babylonians promised to either pay outstanding debts they had or to return items borrowed from other villagers. If they were able to accomplish these goals, the pagan gods they worshipped would repay them the following year with good luck. If they strayed from their word, the Babylonians would be punished by their gods, falling out of their good favor and reaping retribution.
As the ball drops every Dec. 31, the excitement of the new year also brings, for some, daunting thoughts. Maybe you’re thinking, “What will my New Year’s resolutions be this time?” or “Here we go again!”
It’s estimated that 45% of Americans make goals at the start of each year, but only 8% reach them. Why is it so difficult to keep these intentions we make for ourselves? According to psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, people who make resolutions typically fail at accomplishing them because of their negative wording, irrelevancy to the individual or lack of specificity.
This year, we suggest following manageable and smaller efforts that you will enjoy – some taking just a few minutes to accomplish while others other will get you out into the basin for some physical fun!
We want to help you be successful, so here are 10 water-related resolutions that are fun and relevant for both you and your family (and are capable of being kept)!
1. Take a selfie at each Possum Kingdom Lake’s Hike and Bike trail overlook point.
Whether you consider yourself an experienced or novice hiker, the 16 miles of natural trails at Possum Kingdom Lake allow for an appreciation by the entire family. There are 21 scenic overlooks scattered along the trails that are perfect for picturesque selfies with a gorgeous backdrop of the glossy water at Possum Kingdom Lake. Difficulty levels in hikes range from beginner and family-friendly to expert, so visitors of all ages can experience the beauty of the wildlife along PK according to their comfort levels. Find the prettiest native Texas blooms or stay quiet enough to run into some wildlife.
2. Grill and munch on a hot dog (or hamburger) lakeside.
What do our three BRA lakes all have in common? They all have picnic benches with grills waiting to be fired up (not to mention a beautiful lakeside view). Whether you’re at Lake Limestone, Lake Granbury or Possum Kingdom Lake, visitors throughout the basin are welcome to use the convenient benchside barbeques and enjoy their grilled favorites. Don’t forget the condiments and buns!
For maps of picnic and barbeque areas at each lake area, click here.
3. Reduce your water use in the home by a few gallons each day.
While 65 gallons may seem like a daunting number, you can find ways to save water for future Texas generations with the smallest habits. Here are a few ways to intentionally conserve water in your home, according to Green America:
- Shorten your shower. A typical showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, or about 20 gallons for an 8-minute shower. By reducing your shower time to 5 minutes, you can save 7.5 gallons of water in just one day (by yourself)!
- Only wash loads of laundry when completely full. The washing machine is the No. 1 water-using appliance in the home. By starting a load of laundry when it is filled up with dirty clothes, you can save anywhere from 15 to 45 gallons of water more than if you ran smaller, separate loads.
- Choose water from the tap over water from the plastic bottle. Did you know that a singular plastic water bottle takes over 1.5 gallons to produce in water packaging plants? Conserve 6 gallons of water a day by drinking from your tap in reusable glasses or bottles instead.
4. Play a round of disc golf at Cameron Park along the Brazos River.
One of Waco’s most stunning attractions includes the riverside Cameron Park, stretching along the central portion of the Brazos River. This 23-hole disc golf course at the park is friendly for beginner disc golfers and pros alike and was recently constructed in 2020! Online reviews describe this course as a “mostly wooded course with a mix of uphill and downhill and short and long” shots, as well as “beautiful” and “well maintained.” The course also has obvious signage along its path to direct disc golfers and baskets with tall markers. Bring your lucky disc, a pair of comfortable shoes to walk from hole to hole and a friendly competitor.
5. Try harvesting rainwater.
One simple way to make use of nature’s resources is by collecting rainwater. In the state of Texas, rainwater harvesting is both legal and encouraged. Here are two tips for beginners looking to be more environmentally responsible, according to AgriLife Today:
- Rain barrels are the most effective way to catch rainwater and can be found at a home improvement store near you. If you don’t want to invest and are more interested in a DIY approach, try using any other large plastic container, such as a large trash bin with a lid.
- Try placing your barrel or water container where water naturally flows off your roof.
6. Catch a fish at Lake Limestone.
Fishing enthusiasts from across the Brazos River basin will love reeling out their lines at Lake Limestone. Because of its rural locale, this lake boasts some of the best fishing Central Texas has to offer. Gradually sloping banks and a host of different aquatic vegetation provide for diverse fish species, ranging from largemouth and white bass, sunfish, crappie and three species of catfish. If you’re feeling bold enough, try frying up one of your catches for dinner with one of these catfish recipes!
7. Enjoy the Brazos River from a different viewpoint by taking out a kayak or canoe.
While the 920-mile-long Brazos River can certainly be enjoyed via shores, banks and beaches, admiring the natural Texas beauty from a new angle is a treat. At least once this year, try to get your dose of exercise afloat the glossy waters of the Brazos!
To learn more about where to specifically to paddle out on the river, click here.
8. Show off your Texas Pride by planting at least one native plant species in your yard.
Upgrade your garden space, no matter how large or small, by planting a native Texas plant species. Native plants are so important to our ecosystems because of the pollinators they attract, as well as providing a sense of pride in the naturally-growing species of the area, according to the National Audobon Society. Exotic, non-native plants, while they may be sold cheaper at landscaping and gardening stores, destroy natural food webs and outcompete native species in their habitats.
Native plant species that do well because of their long blooming seasons and resistance to drought include the Mealy Blue Sage, Turk’s Cap, Gulf Muhly, Texas Frogfruit and more, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of Austin.
Wondering how to start growing a native species in your own home garden? Click here for tips from the National Park Service on how to begin your own small-scale native plant garden.
9. Change the way you wash fruits and vegetables.
This change, while small, can add up and become impactful for water conservation in your home! Instead of running your produce under the streaming kitchen faucet this year, use an appropriate-sized pan of water to soak and scrub the dirtier vegetables. This way, the water collected in the pan can also be reused to water plants outdoors!
10. Make your voice heard at the virtual Brown Bag on the Brazos meeting.
Wondering about projects, updates and environmental conditions in the Brazos River basin? Join the BRA’s bimonthly Brown Bag meeting, hosted by General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth. The public can submit questions during the meeting to be answered during the virtual Microsoft Teams meeting. Along with Collinsworth are experts from the BRA with the specific knowledge on the topics of discussion, such as hydrologists and project, water and construction managers. This wise team ensures the public gets the necessary and useful information they want to know.
For instance, topics that community participants in meetings have asked in the past have included:
- What can be done to prevent erosion issues along the river?
- How do I get approval to duck hunt on BRA reservoirs?
- Why isn’t Lake Waco's water supply a part of the BRA system?
- Is electricity generated at any of the dams? If not, why not?
To view past recorded Brown Bag meetings, click here. To hear the issue or topic of your choice be discussed in depth at a Brown Bag on the Brazos meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to receiving your questions and enjoying lunch together across screens!
Channel your ancient Babylonian and join us in completing one, two, three or all of these New Year’s resolutions with us this year!