Why is it that a California urbanite uses significantly more water per day than an Aussie urbanite?[i] It’s about changing water use through reeducation, paying the full cost for water, and implementing policies that induce water conservation and efficient use.
What we need to remember is that most of our homes are located in water basins with depleted groundwater resources, and that water is piped into our homes at great cost. On top of that, most water immediately goes straight down the drain after we open the tap.
Water conservation, and the efficient use and re-use of water, remain the most important ways of saving water supplies.[ii]
Reducing the flow rate of water from house taps and showerheads will mean less water is used, and less wasted hot water will go down the drain. Replace tap fittings and showerheads with water-efficient fittings that have flow restrictors, aerators and pressure-limiting valves.[iii] If you can’t afford these fittings, then do it the old-fashioned way by only partially opening taps to reduce the flow rate.
Every time we take a shower, wash the dishes, do the laundry, use sink taps, or use water frivolously, most of that water becomes wastewater, commonly referred to as greywater. Greywater accounts for more than two-thirds of household wastewater.
With the right technology (i.e., filtration, drain water heat exchanger),[iv] suitable house and garden plumbing, and municipal permission, we can re-use this grey water to flush the toilet, supply an underground irrigation system, and recharge groundwater.[v] Utilizing greywater for garden irrigation will amount to substantial water reuse, and will save a lot of precious fresh water.[vi] However, in many developed nations it is likely that municipal regulations and permission processes will need to change to accommodate more home greywater use.
We can also use smart, low-pressure, targeted irrigation systems (i.e., avoid sprinklers), and irrigate early in the morning or evening. Choosing the right garden plants adapted to the climate (i.e., native plants), covering the ground with mulch to reduce evaporation, and ensuring proper lawn care (i.e., not cutting too short or too frequently) will also save on water use for irrigation.[vii]
Have you fixed those leaky pipes yet? Remember, one drop of water leakage per second wastes 27 liters per day, or 10,200 liters per year. That’s a lot of water![viii]
If you live in a drought-prone area, you might wish to consider your emergency water supplies. A large water storage tank for potable water will provide drinking water during a severe drought. If you live near the coast, you might also consider having or making a solar still for purifying brackish water or seawater.[ix],[x],[xi],[xii]
[i] California Drought Contingency Plan. State of California, California Natural Resources Agency, Department of Water Resources. http://drought.unl.edu/archive/plans/drought/state/CA_2010.pdf.
[ii] New Zealand Government. Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. Smart Guides. Hikina Whakatutuki. Practical Advice on Smarter Home Essentials. https://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/smart-guides/water-and-waste/.
[iii] New Zealand Government. Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. Smart Guides. Hikina Whakatutuki. Practical Advice on Smarter Home Essentials. https://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/smart-guides/water-and-waste/efficient-use-of-water/.
[iv] US Depertment of energy. Drain-Water Heat Recovery. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/drain-water-heat-recovery.
[v] New Zealand Government. Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. Smart guides. Reusing greywater. Water and waste: Efficient use of water, hot water options, reusing greywater, using rainwater, managing storm water, on-site sewage systems. https://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/smart-guides/water-and-waste/re-using-greywater/.
[vi] New Zealand Government. Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. Smart Guides. Hikina Whakatutuki. Practical Advice on Smarter Home Essentials. https://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/smart-guides/water-and-waste/collecting-and-using-rainwater/
[vii] New Zealand Government. Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. Smart Guides. Hikina Whakatutuki. Practical Advice on Smarter Home Essentials. https://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/smart-guides/water-and-waste/efficient-use-of-water/.
[viii] US Government Ready Website for all types of emergencies and natural disasters. Drought. https://www.ready.gov/drought.
[ix] Hikmet Ş. Aybar, “A review of desalination by solar still.” May 2007. NATO Security through Science Series C: Environmental Security. In book: Solar Desalination for the 21st Century. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-5508-9_15.
[x] Manchanda and Kumar, “A comprehensive decade review and analysis on designs and performance parameters of passive solar still.” Renewables (2015) 2:17. DOI 10.1186/s40807-015-0019-8.
[xi] Rasika R Dahake et al., “A Review on Solar Still Water Purification.” International Journal for Innovative Research in Science & Technology Volume 3 Issue 9 2017 59-63.
[xii] A.Z.A. Saifullaha et al., “Solar pond and its application to desalination.” Asian Transactions on Science & Technology (ATST ISSN: 2221-4283) Volume 02 Issue 03.