We just turn the tap and there it is – water, the very stuff of life. We take it for granted, but one of the things that most worries future forecasters about global warming is the likely shortage of water in many parts of the world. National and state governments will need to take concerted action in coming decades, but in the short term there is plenty that individuals and families can do to help.
“Millions of people saving a few gallons
here and there can make an enormous
difference to the global water supply.”
Fix the Leaks
Often the quickest way to use less water is to stop pouring it straight into the ground or sewer through a leak. A surprisingly small drip can add up to gallons in a couple of days, and a spray could fill a small swimming pool in a month.
If you have a meter, read it, turn off all your taps for a few hours, then read the meter again. If the reading has changed you have a leak somewhere. If you can’t find it in your property, you will need to get a plumber to come and find it for you.
Listen to your cisterns to make sure that the valves turn off properly when full, or put some coloured dye into them – if it ends up in the bowl without flushing, then water is leaking through.
Keep an eye on all your taps to watch for drips, and fix them quickly.
Cut it Back
There are plenty of ways to cut back on your water usage. Always turn off the tap when you are not actually using it. For instance, when shaving or cleaning your teeth, there is no need to leave the tap running (you only need to put the plug in while doing this to see how much water it wastes). Don’t wash up dishes under running water – it wastes both water and energy.
Take a shower rather a bath, and do it as quickly as possible. If you take more than one shower a day, ask yourself if you really need to. Another very easy way to save shower water is to install a water-saving shower head. You can also buy aerators to fit to your other taps to reduce the flow.
Modern toilet cisterns are quite efficient, but if you have an older one, it might dispense a couple of gallons every time you flush. Consider putting in a sinkable plastic bottle of water, or preferably a custom-made water conservation device.
Don’t use the hose when you wash the car, it is very wasteful. Use a bucket, or take the car to a carwash that recycles water.
Do you really need to water the lawn in dry spells? Grass is very resilient and will spring back when it rains. Stock your garden with drought-resistant plants, so that you hardly need to water them at all. If you really need to water, do it in the cool part of the day – in hot conditions more will evaporate before it sinks into the ground. Target your watering, don’t let a sprinkler dump half it on the paths.
Use water more smartly to get the most value from it. Use the water that falls from the sky instead of piping it in – a water tank from The Water Tank Factory can collect a huge amount in wet seasons to supply your needs when it is dry. Even a small rainwater barrel will make a difference—and rainwater is better for your plants than tap water.
Re-use water whenever you can. Try keeping your washing-up water for your plants, or to flush the toilet. You could even put a bucket in your shower to collect water. If you have to wait a while for hot water to flow through to your tap, find a way to save the cold water rather than just letting it run down the plug hole..
Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when it has a full load. If it has a half-load setting use it whenever you can do so according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When buying a new appliance check for its water efficiency.
One of the World’s Most Precious Commodities
Unlike gold, coffee, or oil, clean water is an absolute necessity for life. As the world’s population grows and its climate changes, we rely on politicians and technicians to supply more of it, but at the same time we share a responsibility to use wisely and well what we have. Millions of people saving a few gallons here and there can make an enormous difference to the global supply.
About the Author
Starting out in 1984, John Fleming began a small family business manufacturing rain water tanks for the local Northern Rivers market. After 30+ years of innovation, stable management and an ongoing commitment to excellent customer service, they’re now one of the leading water tank manufacturers in Australia.