Thursday, April 05, 2007

Why Save Water

Amy asked "Why bother?" I understand what she means. Water costs nothing. You turn on a tap and it comes - clean, cold, pure, delicious. It never runs out. It's always there. So why save it?

In one sense, water is an infinitely renewable resource. It never runs out because it just cycles round and round. You drink it, but it isn't gone - sooner or later you'll pee it out, it will get processed and return to the rivers and seas. You spill it, it evaporates and goes back to the clouds, to rain down and return to the reservoirs. Your pipes leak? So what? It all goes back to the groundwater where it was pumped out of in the first place.

On the other hand, because it is a (more or less) closed cycle, we can't make any more of it. But the population is growing rapidly, and our use of water is going through the roof. One of these days you're going to turn the tap on - and nothing will come out.

If that isn't reason enough to save water, think of the resources needed to collect the water (how much energy does it take to build a dam?), to clean the water, to store it and to pump it to where it is needed. When you think of all the energy that has gone to produce each pint of tapwater, it seems much more important to conserve it.

Put it this way - it takes 9 bottles of Evian to flush your toilet just once. 30 bottles of Perrier to take a shower or 80 bottles to take a bath. It takes 20 of those big 5 litre bottles of Volvic to run a washing machine. If you actually bathed in mineral water, people would think you were crazy. But the water that comes out of the tap is just pure, just as as expensive to produce and just as precious as the stuff you pay for at the supermarket. Next time you flush the loo, imagine pouring nine bottles of Buxton spring water into the cistern before you could flush it. Wouldn't you put a brick or two in it, to save one of those bottles?


Gid said...

The other thing to think of is getting the most out of the water you use.. consider what happens to the water from a bath or shower.. the water itself is perfectly usable for other things.. you don't *need* to use perfectly good drinking water to flush the toilet or clean your tools after working in the garden.. consider a "grey water" system.. using water twice halves its cost..

Anonymous said...

Well said, but remember some of us do run out of water and have to be extremely conservative in our water useage. Yes, even in Scotland.

That makes it doubly irritating when you see people wasting water or using clean drinking water to jobs where grey water or rainwater would do equally well.

lilymarlene said...

Here on the Isle of Wight we are all metered. It certainly concentrates the mind!
When we fist moved in they assessed us at £25 a month (10 times a year, for water and sewage). Then they re-assessed us and we pay £13 now. I think this means that we use about half what an average couple in the UK would. I'm pleased with that.
once talked to an old lady who lived in a bungalow in the woods at the top of Charing Hill in Kent when she was a child. They were a large family. Her job with one of her brothers was to strap a barrel to the back of their old horse, walk with her a mile down into the valley to a stream that was clean, fill the barrel, return home......several times a week!
I am very glad we have piped water and NEVER take it for granted!

Anonymous said...

When I was a boy, back in the forties, my Dad had three old oil drums in the back garden in which he would collect rainwater for use around the garden and his workshop. As children, we were often dumped into them at the end of the day if we had got particularly dirty playing around the farm and fields and the big tree surrounded pond in the valley. As we also lived very close, within a mile or so, of a huge pitheap, highly suitable for sledding down on sheets of corrugated iron, getting dirty was a sine qua non for me, my seven brothers and sisters and the children from the four large families in the other farm cottages. This initial dip, and scrub down, allowed Mum to bathe off the remaining grime in only one tin bath tub of hot water. This saved fuel in heaqting the water, fresh water from the mains and effort on her half. If my memory serves me right, Dad would then scrub down a rebellious Rex, our mongrel cross, dog with mentally deranged boy.

Anonymous said...

Umm, because your country is drought prone and may be experiencing the worst drought for 1,000 years (thanks to global warming?)

And drought affects everyone ...
Farmers haven't been able to plant crops for several years ... the situation has got so bad that there has been an increase in suicides ... and farmers are characterised in Australia as the toughest of the tough, strongest of all ...

All the biggest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) have worryingly low dam levels and level 3+ water restrictions, with Brisbane expected to run out of water early next year; large towns/ small cities like Toowoomba, Goulburn are already nearly out of water.

Home gardeners (like me) are obsessed with watering restrictions and water saving ideas ... grey water, buckets in the shower etc.

Politicians are arguing loudly with each other about what to do. I think Jerry Coleby-Williams opinions, written from a Brisbane perspective, are the best I've read on all of this. Check out the rest of his blog about self-sufficiency, too.

Obviously the UK is not drought-prone like Australia (although I acknowledge what Stonehead said) but with global warming likely changing everything, who can tell?

Anonymous said...

I like to take 1 minute showers!

Anonymous said...

In our country, water does run out. Even if it's surrounded by water and we have a coastline far longer than the US.

The thing is, we can't drink that water, the kind we can drink comes from our mountain springs and ground water beneath the soil. Sadly, we're running out of water.

Anonymous said...

We are subjected to water-rationing once in a while here in Malaysia, especially when it hasn't been raining for a while.

We're lucky to be blessed with lots of annual rain, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to do our part to conserve water (though not everybody does their part).

And, instead of placing bricks into the cistern, I place a 1.5L bottle-full of water into it.

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