Australia is a largely water conscious country. Due in part to the fact that in our short history droughts have become as ingrained in our culture as VB’s and AFL, Australia is often rated highly in terms of water consumption and sustainability. Both Sydney and Melbourne were ranked in the top twenty cities worldwide in relation to harnessing water assets for the greatest long term advantage, in a Sustainable Cities Index published by Arcadis.
Water is considered by the EPA to be a finite resource, due to the fact that although 70 – 75 percent of the planet’s surface is covered with water, only 1 percent of that is available for human use. Although the world population and the demand for fresh water resources are increasing, the supply of water remains roughly the same. Which means that at a certain point, there may not be enough water to keep us all as hydrated as we need to be in order to, y’know, live. As we know from living in a country where there can be weeks without any rainfall, our natural water supply could dry up at any second, for an unknowable amount of time. The best way to avoid this is by being water smart. The smarter we are in how we use our water, the more prepared we will be for a growing population, and likely droughts in the future. There are many small things that every day people can do to reduce their H20 consumption today, so we can ensure that there is H20 at all tomorrow. These may seem like simple suggestions, but it is the smallest things that we can often overlook.
Don’t Leave The Tap Running, Dude.
This one is easy, but it is also one that a lot people forget about. When you’re brushing your teeth or shaving at the bathroom sink, get the amount of water you need and then turn the tap off. I know what you’re thinking – “who can be bothered turning taps on and off all the time?!” Well, you should be bothered. Because leaving a tap running wastes roughly 6 litres per minute. If you brush your teeth for the average 2-3 minutes, that means you’re wasting 12-18 litres of water per brush. That may not seem like much, but to put it in context, that is the equivalent of 9 bottles of milk. That’s a whole lot of milk. And a whole lot of water.
If It’s Yellow, Let It Mellow, If It’s Brown, Flush It Down.
Although that little poem may sound like a Beatles lyric from one of the songs they let Ringo put on an album, it’s actually a proven water saving technique. A full toilet flush uses about 12 litres of water, whilst a half flush uses about 3 litres per flush. Still, considering that the average person urinates 6-8 times a day, that is still about 24 litres going down the drain every day, just for urine. While this technique may not be so appealing in a workplace or at your partner’s parent’s house, it is definitely an easy one you can do in your own home to save heaps of water. Unless you’ve been eating a lot of asparagus, in which case please for the love of all that is sacred, flush.
Water The Garden With Your Washing Machine.
Before you go trying this one, make sure that you have purchased an eco washing detergent – the standard stuff will kill your plants and grass. Depending on the efficiency of your washing machine, it could be using anywhere between 18 and 113 litres of water per cycle. An easy way to ensure that this water doesn’t go to waste is to either capture it in buckets and pour those buckets on to your yard as it drains from the hose at the back of the machine, or simply connect that hose to a standard garden hose, punch some holes in the garden hose, and let it drain out immediately on to your garden. Not only will this save water, it will save you the time of watering too!
Stop With All The Shower Thoughts.
Everyone loves a bit of private time in the shower. The shower is one of the only places where it is socially acceptable to just stand there and do nothing, and it obviously feels amazing to have warm water pouring on your skin. But if you want to save water, the shower is one of the best places to start. You’ve got to make it an efficient affair – sure, it can still be pleasant, but try to spend less time just standing there. If you shower for an average of 8.2 minutes (which, let’s be honest, is a pretty conservative estimate) you use more than 65 litres of water. To revisit the milk bottle comparison, that is 32 bottles of milk being poured right down that hair clogged shower drain. Even if we spent just a few minutes less in the shower each, we would save thousands and thousands of litres of water every day, which is something we need to be able to do if we experience another drought in the near future.
Being water smart is an essential pursuit for Australians, and for humanity in general as we move into the future. We need to not take water for granted, and think about all of the small ways in which we can preserve it, to avoid a water catastrophe in the future. If you’re interested in the many ways that Melbourne is looking towards being a water smart city in the future, and the ways you can get involved with Melbourne Water to help protect our local waterways, get down to Melbourne Knowledge Week for an interactive workshop called Water Citizen Scientists. Check out all the details here.