Consumer’s Guide to Water Conservation
Water is possibly our most precious, yet undervalued natural resource. This guide will explore how to reduce and re-cycle water.
Water conservation is very important since demand is on the rise and water tables are declining. A safe and secure water supply can no longer be taken for granted, so we must reassess our attitudes towards water.
By practising some basic rules of conservation we can play an important part in improving our water quality and reducing the quantity we use.
Water is not just used; it’s re-used! The water that goes down our drains,eventually cycles through the environment and back into our homes. This should make you think twice the next time you flush the toilet, brush your teeth, or drink a glass of water. The less we degrade our precious natural resources the less we must spend to bring our water back to an acceptable standard.
In the home we use far more water than is necessary. In fact we can cut back significantly without even noticing. Water conservation will not reduce your quality of lifestyle in any way. In fact, once you understand how to reduce water waste, it just could become habit-forming and save you money.
Canadians use more than twice the water, as do Europeans. Each of us uses about 350 litres (80 gallons) each day – just indoors.
During the summertime, lawn watering and car washing can increase water use by 50%. Whenever we use our water, there is a potential to save.
Follow these 3 Golden Rules of Conservation:
- REDUCE: It’s surprising how much water gets wasted. We just let it run down the drain. Become conscious of the amount of water you’re using and try to use less wherever and whenever possible.
- REPAIR: A lead of one drop per second wastes 10,000 litres of water a year. It is easy to find a leak and inexpensive to repair it.
- RETROFIT: Retrofit means adapting or replacing an older water efficient fixture or appliance with one of the many water saving products available now on the market.
CONSERVATION BEGINS AT HOME
In the Kitchen:
- Fruits and vegetables should be cleaned in a partially filled sink – not under a running tap.
- When boiling vegetables use only enough water to cover, steaming is better because it uses less water and retains more essential nutrients.
- Keep a water container in the refrigerator. This avoids running the tap in order to get a cold drink.
- Always fill the dishwasher with dishes before cleaning a load. Dishwashers use between 35 to 45 litres per cycle and hand washing uses about the same amount each time you wash. Therefore, it makes sense to use the dishwasher only once at the end of the day.
- Set on the “energy saver” or shortest cycle.
- Drippy faucets lose a tremendous amount of water. Have them fixed or replaced.
- Install a water efficient faucet aerator or a swivel sprayer. The flow rate should be 9.5 litres at 80 psi.
In the Bathroom:
The bathroom accounts for about 65% of the water used inside the home so there is where the savings potential exists in a big way:
- Install a water saving aerator on the end of the faucet spout. The flow rate should be no more than 6 litres at 80 psi.
- When shaving, fill the sink up a few inches to rinse the shaver, never keep the water running.
- When brushing teeth, don’t let the water run. Fill a mug for rinsing.
- A shower uses much less hot water than bathing in a full tub. For those who prefer to bathe, it is not necessary to fill more than ½ of the tub.
- If you take a bath, first put in the drain stopper and turn on the hot water only. Allow the hot tap to run until the water runs hot and only then should the cold tap be adjusted to set the desired temperature.
- Flush the toilet only when necessary, which can be every third time it is used for liquid waste. Never use the toilet as a wastebasket for tissue etc.. and never flush paints, oils, solvents and other chemicals down the toilet.
- Showers are the second highest user of water in the house and regular showerheads flow at a rate of about 20 litres per minute. The newer water conservation showerheads use 9.5 litres at 80 psi. Although they use less, the jets are designed to provide a very satisfying spray.
- Some low-flow showerheads have a shut-off valve attached. This allows for extra savings while shampooing or soaping up.
- A family of four each taking a five-minute shower each day will save 73,000 litres of water per year or 73 cubic metres.
- Add this to the additional benefit of at least $100 per year in energy saved to heat the water and your conservation is showing dividends.
- A leaking toilet valve can do major damage to your conservation efforts. A toilet that runs continuously, can leak enough in one year to fill an entire swimming pool. Check the height of the water inside the tank to make sure that the levels is not above the overflow tube.
- To find out if the rubber flapper valve is leaking, put some food colouring in the tank. If the colouring is observed in the toilet bowl without flushing, the flapper is leaking. Take it out and purchase a new flapper at your plumbing retailer.
- Sometimes the valve seat has corroded. If that is the case, sand the seat with emery paper.
- A conventional toilet uses about 18 litres per flush. Each of us uses about 36,500 litres of treated water to dispose of about 650 litres of body waste.
- A family of four would use approximately 146,000 litres per year through toilet use and this is where the most water can be conserved. That’s 146 cubic metres of water!
- If your toilet is very old and in need of replacement, be sure you purchase one of the new 6 litre or less toilets which are now widely available.
Checking for Leaks
Check to find out if you plumbing system is leaking by checking your water meter before going to bed and then again in the morning. If there’s a difference, you have a leak and should call the County.
In the Outdoors:
The average lawn may need about 100,000 litres of water in a growing season. Most often lawns are over watered and there is run off. Also, watering in the midday sun results in evaporation, so the best time to water is early morning or late afternoon. After heavy rains, watering may not be needed for a week or more.
In dry summer conditions, lawns go dormant. It is not dead, it is growing at a slower rate, which is normal. When frequent rains return, the lawn will become green again. Watering can cause the lawn to come out of dormancy and “browning” can occur it allowed to go dormant again in the same season.
For plant watering, drip irrigation through porous tubes delivers water to the root zone efficiently. Soaker hoses with the holes pointed towards the ground are also efficient. Oscillating sprinklers are the worst offenders since they lose as much as 50% through evaporation.
A low maintenance landscape means keeping thirsty turf grass to a minimum. Turf can be totally replaced with native ground covers that require little watering and cutting. Plants and bushes native to the region usually require no water except what the sky delivers.
Avoid using a running hose to wash a car. Install a trigger nozzle on the hose.
Driveway / Sidewalk Washing
Use a broom or brush to clean the driveway. Water washing the driveway is unnecessary.