As summer approaches, a question arises: how can we deal with the impending water shortages? The earth’s resources are coming under increasing strain due to excessive consumption, unnecessary waste and a lack of awareness around the actions we should take to conserve water.
Guest post – Sidrah Ahmad, Waterlogic
In this article, we take a look at the effects of your water consumption habits, as well as the simple steps you can take to save water every day. We’ll also share advice on what to do should a water shortage hit and some tips to avoid running out during a crisis.
Just over 20 years ago, Australia entered a period that became known as the ‘Millennium Drought’; a 12-year stretch in which Melbourne suffered the worst dry-spell since records began; as did Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.
This led to initiatives such as water desalination and recycling plants, but it appears not enough can be done to guarantee long-term supplies for an ever-increasing population.
Drought is an all-too-often occurrence across an arid land such as Australia; however, for a city to be on the cusp of running dry is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Authorities have set conservation plans in motion as a forecasted increase in the urban population, coupled with climate change which means demand could surpass supply in just 10 years. At best, authorities predict a crisis within 50.
Overconsumption and waste is a global concern
Each of Australia’s major cities faces challenges, though some are more pronounced than others: Perth, for example, has reserves at a mere 34% of capacity and with several regions releasing sewage effluent into drinking water catchment rivers. Moreover, given Australia has the second-highest consumption of water per capita, it is disheartening that there’s no need for conservation.
On a global scale, almost 900 billion gallons of water are wasted per annum through leaks alone; a supply which could sustain 11 million households for an entire year. Additionally, garden sprinklers and inefficient irrigation systems waste upwards of 25,000 gallons annually.
As illustrated by the World Resources Institute, many countries are affected by water stress. As shown below, countries in extremely high-stress areas have an 80% likelihood of seeing their water supplies withdrawn. This can leave communities vulnerable to scarcity, livestock and agriculture at risk, with drought conditions affecting the balance of natural ecosystems.
How you can save water and monitor usage
Saving water needn’t be an arduous process:
- Many modern products have water efficiency labels to highlight performance so make eco-minded choices.
- Households can save up to 13,000 gallons of water every year by replacing an old toilet with a more efficient cistern; while leak-proof faucets could save $250 over the course of a lifetime – renew yours accordingly.
- Using the dishwasher or washing machine only when full saves one load per week; or, 320 gallons of water per year – wait until it’s full.
- Turning off taps when brushing teeth or shaving will save 8 or 10 gallons; while the same applies to a running tap when washing the dishes – remember to turn it off.
- When you shower, keep it short by using a timer. Better yet, switch to a water-efficient showerhead – be short, sweet and efficient.
Three emergency steps to take if a water crisis hits
Should a crisis hit, there are three vital steps to take to avoid personal catastrophe:
1. Stock up by any means possible.
In the event of a crisis, the first action is source drinking water. Purchase bottled water where possible or locate water refill points in your local area and replenish empty vessels. If you have access to a water tank, make use of this to store excess capacity.
2. Shower over tubs, and reuse.
Maintaining basic sanitation is essential during times of crisis; by showering over a tub, households can conserve water and reuse for washing clothes. Alternatively, if washing hands or cutlery, put a bowl in the sink and reuse the water to flush toilets.
3. Bake and grill, never boil.
We all need to eat; so, make use of the oven and the grill. Equally, use paper plates or serving platters to avoid washing up; or wrap dishes in cellophane, then peel off after each use.
Enduring a water crisis is not easy. However, by modifying habits, we can survive. Cape Town has been on the brink of running out of water for some time, but residents are holding fast and doing their best to conserve. Sao Paulo Brazil’s largest city was recently on the cusp of running dry before a deluge ended their suffering just days before disaster.
Nations suffer all too often, but they pull through. The vital step is adopting the right preventative behaviours to become part of the solution; instead of contributing to the problem. Reduce the number of showers you take; get used to eating with your fingers, and only flush when necessary – when you do, reuse water from elsewhere to refill the cistern.