With climate change, droughts, and talk of Australians having to drink recycled water in the not-so-distant future, saving water has never seemed so important. Australia’s population is estimated to grow from 23.3 million to 37.6 million by the year 2050 and urban water experts are saying this means one of Australia’s east coast cities will have to make the shift pretty soon.
Many of our capital cities already have desalination plants, used to remove salt and minerals from seawater to turn it into freshwater. While this has been working reasonably well, it’s not an option for inland towns and cities. So with our population being expected to double in the next 50 years, Stuart Khan, of the Water Research Centre at the University of New South Wales says, "That's really going to be the next viable option (for those towns) … they will have very few choices and they will be pushing to be able to develop potable water recycling schemes in order to sustain their communities and cities."
So, what can we do from home to conserve water and therefore save the country from recycled water?
According to Waterplex, the largest portion of water in the average Australian home is used outdoors. More than a third of our water consumption goes to our backyard, whether it be filling the pool, hosing the driveway, or watering our gardens — and this statistics continues to grow with the larger the property.
Head to Bunnings and buy a trigger nozzle to install on the end of your house, this is the simplest water saving technique. Find a way to collect your grey water (this is used water from your bathroom, laundry, kitchen sink) and use that to water your plants (so long as they’re not edible — chemical-veggies, ew) or for the first rinse when washing your car.
We all love the ‘hose the driveway’ life hack, it feels wildly efficient, but realistically it’s not too much more effort to just give the driveway a sweep with a straw broom… plus it saves up to 13, 500L of water annually.
The last thing to consider when you use water outdoors is evaporation, keep your pool covered and if you must water your grass do it either earlier or water in the day, not when the suns ready to soak it all up.
The bathroom is where roughly a quarter of your household water goes. A running tap can use up to 25 litres in one minute. Don’t let the water run while your brush your teeth, shave your face, or rinse the dishes.
Running a second, super shallow sink of hot water can be a great alternative to rinsing the dishes in running water, simply dip the dish in the rinse water before popping it in the rack. Same goes for your morning shave, a shallow sink of water to dip your razor in is more than adequate and could save over 125 litres of water in a week.
Install a three-star rated showerhead in your shower to save water with a reduced pressure and double check your toilet for leaks — finding and repairing a leak in your toilet can save up to 60, 000 litres of water annually.
50-80% of the average Australian’s wastewater comes from the laundry. Top loaders use more water than front loading washing machines, so if you’re heading out to buy a new washer, while you’re at it make sure it’s energy star certified too.
A new washing machine is an expensive solution so if you’re not feeling quite that commited, link up a hose to your existing machine. Use the hose to lead greywater into your backyard, preferably into a bucket or something to collect it so you can recycle that water around the yard.